Maybe people have done this before, but I felt pretty cool to do this. My wife inspired me with a new notebook she purchased. Rather than being lined or made with a grid, this paper has vertices. I was lamenting earlier to my class how I hate that I cannot write straight (in fact my board penmanship causes some of my biggest teacher feelings of inadequacy), so I wanted to fix that. I projected the same matrix of vertices onto the board and then just copied them with permanent marker. I love it, because I can still write, but my whiteboard is now also permanently graph paper without being too distracting by having lines. In the words of my British colleague "brill!"
This year I get to teach science again. I forgot how much students get into the mysteries of science. This is a fun little discrepant event that I remember from when I was in grade eight. Pouring CO2 into a candle just looks like magic for kids. I thought my document camera picked up sound, but unfortunately I did not get the oos and aws that I was hoping to capture but they were in abundance. It reminds me just how curious their minds are, and how much they want to know what they can't understand. Hopefully we can keep up this momentum.
In order to get students to start track progress and take their learning into their own hands, I am really pushing SMART goals. Students always say they want to improve their grades or study more, so this year we are working on more actionable steps for them to achieve these goals. Right now we are just working on creating goals, but we will soon be doing daily tracking, reflection, and choosing actionable steps. I am excited to see how this will push students as it is really something I have not done frequently.
Over the last few days we have been unpacking students' self reflected learning needs. The shared what they know to be true about how they learn, we did a gallery walk to look for trends, we shared trends, and then we worked toward building common knowledge around how we will act in our class. This has been student driven, and I have just helped them put them into words. We vote to see if we agree with them, and then we put them down. I will rewrite them (read "type them") in much neater format and create a display on them when we have got at least three strong norms to work with. Students will then be responsible for setting goals and finding actionable tasks for them to participate positively in the classroom. I can't wait to see how this affects the culture of our class!
I think I have written about my try before you buy style, but this week, on a whim, I narrowed it down. It started in math class, but it has been working for everything. I told students that we are going to be Explorers this year in all our subjects, but it it means we actually have to take risks and not be worried to change.
A student pointed out today that it was like the scientific method, which I thought was absolutely brilliant! It is essentially. It works, and it give students a good model for risk taking. Today we did that with a gallery walk on goal setting. Students wrote down goals that they could have for their lives (I gave them the four categories). We then practiced leaving kind, specific, and helpful feedback on their goals. As we continue to work on how to set goals and reflect on the, we will be introducing S.M.A.R.T. goals, but it was great to hear kids already saying, "That goal doesn't really tell you what you need to do to achieve it." Oh man, the gold, the sheer gold.
After seven years of teaching, I still can't believe how much of a shock it comes to me that day two follows directly after day one. How is this possible? I just spent hours and weeks getting prepped and prepared for my first day of school. To make an impression and connect with students, set a tone for the year, and give them an introduction into who I am, how is that not enough for you?! You want more?!
Well day two is a reality, and I happy to report that it went well. I introduced students to the idea of using graphs to tell something about yourself. They loved digging into this, and students found everything that I found intriguing about this simple graphic. They learned were able to tell
The First Day, I'd like to pretend that I have this thing figured out, but every year it is full of fretting and worrying. this is my eighth year and I still feel as witless as ever. Something kicks in though when you get in front of the class. I don't know if it is the fact that I am the oldest in the room. Is it that I am experienced? Is it my rapier wit? My charm? Probably all of the above. But seriously this year my first units are directed mainly toward classroom culture and establishing the norms of the classroom. I am going to avoid strict academics per se, but establishing the norms that we need for strong collaboration and general treating others like humans. To kick this off we started with the good ole marshmallow tower challenge. It was fun to see the janky creations these groups constructed, but it led to great discussions and will hopefully build a foundation for how we treat others in class. Here goes!
Here we are just doing a start up activity from our Humanities block. I give a writing prompt and students spend just a few minutes coming up with some sort of writing from that prompt. This is simply to get them thinking creatively, and realizing that anything can be an inspiration for story. The goal is not to finish the story, but to see how random ideas can be turned into something interesting and fun to read. Why I wanted to share this with netbooks, is it used to be that these would be placed maybe in a section of a binder, or in a notbook, but they had less permanence. Students are loving these prompts, and want to keep writing their stories. They are free to, and they have a good record of them to retrieve.
This is just one aspect of my students having technology. The organizational aspect is so great. We are still learning how to use it as such (I still have students with numerous unnamed documents) but that is what learning is all about. I cannot wait to have them do even more in the months to come.
I am scared to write this post. I think it comes from a fear of always needing to be doing something in class, but over the last two days students have been working on either projects or practice. I feel like this takes me out of my role as a teacher, but I need to get over that feeling. I am giving students time to ask questions, receive feedback, and just focus on what they need to focus on. Yes, if all I ever did was practice or personal work time my students and I would go insane, but sometimes allowing students to buckle down and be coached is exactly what they need.
If you have never heard of a 180 blog, let me fill you in. #teach180 is all about sharing your daily life in teaching. It is a way of small form blogging, reflecting on what you are doing, and sharing with the world. Check out these...