I teach with a bunch of amazing teachers who inspire me to be a better teacher, one of whom is my husband. Students love his physics class because he takes it off the page by showing them that physics is real and not just a bunch of complicated problems to be solved. Over the years he has developed many demonstrations and games that illustrate those complicated problems, because he understands the importance of both learning styles and movement. His efforts have paid off, not only in his own classroom, but in the classrooms of others in our school, where other teachers are finding ways to get students moving and thinking in creative ways.
I am one of those. And, I’ll admit that I am not as creative as some others, but I am excited about my latest adventure: Grammar Games. I was so sick of correcting the same errors over and over again, so I wanted to find a fun way to reinforce the most common student mistakes. So far, I have games for the proper use of their, your and its, as well as one for fixing fused sentences. My students love playing the games–it’s amazing how a little competition can turn something that they usually find boring into something fun! Hopefully, I will see results and eradicate these errors…wishful thinking, I know, but something to strive for!
There’s lots of excitement over at TPT. People are adding new products and adding to their wishlists. Check out my friends at Cross Curricular Corner. They have been posting some great ideas on the blog and will be showcasing their favorite products in the days preceding the sale.
I just finished marking a blog assignment for my pre-IB class. It took a bit of time to go through all of their posts, but I’m so pleased with their work! For their blog assignments, they need to read articles or view videos that I post on my blog. Then they have to post their own responses and engage in dialogue with their classmates. I try to find highly engaging material that I know will elicit strong responses from them, and so far it seems to be working.
My mission with this activity is to get them to work on idea development and on having authentic dialogue with each other. Because they get to do it online, they seem to buy in more easily. I don’t want to completely “give in” to technology, though. Ultimately, I hope that the skills they learn while blogging will be transferred to face-to-face classroom discussion.
If you would like more details on how this works, as well as a rubric to help you assess it, click on this image.
I’m on a mission. I want to give my students more feedback, but I’m also a realist. Good feedback to thirty-two students takes time. A lot of it. So, I’ve been working on checklists for various assignments. Each one has an area marked “just right” where I can check off the elements the student has mastered. The next area is called “still needs work”; here I can quickly check off the areas that the student needs to improve.
It is a process that needs a lot of tweaking, and I must confess I’ve wasted a bit of paper. I’ve typed up and printed off what I think is the perfect list, only to discover that it doesn’t really fit the assignment. So, I’ve realized I can’t photocopy until I’ve tried a few!
Regardless of the few trees I’ve killed, I am loving my checklists. It makes the feedback process so much easier and the students can get it in a much more timely fashion.
Here is one that I made up to cover the basics of a paragraph:
If you’d like to start using checklists, you can check out my Assessment for Learning product at TPT.
Valentine’s Day is a day to reflect on those you love. I’ll spare you the personal stuff and tell you about my latest school “love”. This semester I am team teaching a non-academic twelfth grade class and I love it! Mr. B is my cohort, a younger, hipper teacher who sees education very much as I do: as an active experience that pushes students to think and learn and grow. We are a good match and we are having a wonderful time working together with these kids.
It’s not always easy, though. We have thirty-five disengaged teenagers. Three of them can barely read and write, eight of them are ESL, and three of the girls are taking drama to a whole new level, if you know what I mean. Several of them live on their own, and two are recovering addicts. All of them dislike the menial tasks of school, but light up when we land on something to discuss that they find interesting. It’s only been two weeks, and to be honest, there hasn’t been a lot of “work” done yet, but we have been building relationships and an environment where they feel welcome and heard. It’s going to be a struggle many days, but it’s so awesome to have a partner there with me. I’ll keep you posted on the successes and failures.