Tara, Science in the City:
I have worked harder this year to give students an overall picture of where we are going — where we are in the unit and what our goals are to the activities that we are doing. In my class we also do interactive notebooks, and I will probably do them again, as I have for several years. I’d love to hear from other people 🙂
Kimberly, OC Beach Teacher:
There is an old adage that says, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” After 16 years in the classroom, I have refined many of my lesson and strategies, so I don’t plan to change much next school year. For instance, it took me years to feel comfortable with literature circles, but now I feel like my students really take ownership of their learning. I have also benefited from several years with excellent teacher interns, who have brought new ideas (backed by the latest research) to my classroom. Nevertheless, next year I do plan to keep adding real-world nonfiction texts to my curriculum. Several years ago I started finding articles from newspapers and magazines that students find relevant. I connect these topics to classic literature in an attempt to help engage them in our mandated curriculum. And that’s what makes classics great; all the texts from the canon have themes that still matter in 2014!
This year I started to use more formative assessment and plan to do a whole lot more next year, especially in the beginning of the term. I was always worried that high school students wouldn’t complete assignments that didn’t “count”. It was pretty easy to convince them, however, that in the end the assignments do count, especially if they use the feedback to improve for the work that does.
One problem with giving students more feedback is that it takes more time. I’ve been developing checklists to make the process faster for me, and I’m loving them. I constantly perfect and add to them so I can give lots of feedback by just checking a box. So, next year, I’m hoping my students get even more time to practice important skills through formative assessment.
I do daily warm-ups that I call “Bellwork”. I have always given my students one sheet that they were to do their bellwork on all week and they turn it in on Fridays. However, students lose their papers, are absent on turn-in day, etc. It was always a big pain for me. At the beginning of the second semester, I had all of my students bring a spiral notebook that they were to keep in the classroom. This became their bellwork notebook. Doing this not only cured my paperwork headache, but it also seemed to keep my students on task at the beginning of class. Many times I only had to say, “Where’s your spiral?” and an off-task student would be headed off in the right direction. I will absolutely be doing this again in the upcoming school year!
Sara, Ms. Fuller’s Teaching Adventures:
My students did really well in my English 1010 class with writing literacy narratives. I’m going to continue using this as their first writing assignment because it allows me to assess their writing as well as learn more about their relationship with reading and or writing. I also got a lot of great feedback from the majority of my students saying that they liked doing my daily journal entries. Several commented that it made them think and it inspired creativity. I was somewhat surprised that they didn’t view it as busy work! If you’re interested check out my journal prompts in my store.
Lauralee,The Language Arts Classroom:
I am happy that I provided class outlines before teaching. I gave a general overall – just a bulleted list. It kept me from answering questions and I know that it helps with organization. I need to incorporate more power points/ white board work. Making them takes time, and I am a bit picky when I buy them. I want to make a few this summer.
Dawn, Algebra Simplified:
With the recent switch to Common Core standards, I challenged my students to think deeper. This year my students hypothesized about math topics more than ever. What a thrill to facilitate the following process: students reflect, a student hypothesis is submitted to the class, the class disproves it with a counterexample, a new hypothesis is submitted, and the process repeats until the students actually unearth a key concept for the skill. (No, I do not teach honor students.) While time-consuming, this is definitely a keeper. On a trivial note, my repertoire of pithy responses to diverse class situations is expanding. I think it adds humor, but frankly it might just be student groans. A random kid’s loud hall behavior disrupts class. I turn matter-of-factly to my class and calmly announce, “Don’t do drugs.” Two more for my permanent list: “It won’t kill you; I promise. But if it does, I’ll have a cool story to tell next year” (normally used in reference to touching a calculator) and “It will buff” (stolen from one of my teenage students).