Here are some of the ways I plan to implement these strategies this week:
1. Peer work
I have embraced collaborative student work in the physical space of my classroom. I have replaced desks with tables and left an open space in the center for class and group collaboration. This week I stepped back and asked myself “Am I allowing my students to take advantage of this space?”
I found the answer was not enough. After a few adjustments to my arrangements, I am ready to embrace Monday with a new perspective embracing more peer work. Digging back into the bag of tricks with which my university professors sent me off into the work field, I have rediscovered such strategies as ‘Think, Pair, Share’. I will also let me students work on formative assessments with each other and embrace chatter as potential learning, rather than distraction from learning.
I feel like I have made good progress with using technology in my classroom this year. I have my students using Padlet as a fast and effective way to post reflections to questions. I recently have tried 100 Word Challenge in conjunction with KidBlog to get my students creative writing. This week I am going to take things further and try a Skype session with another class. I have been participating in Global Read Aloud these last 5 weeks, and my students are in love with the book. During the Skype session we will be discussing the book ‘Out of My Mind’ by Sharon Draper. In order to get my students to practice behaviour during a Skype session – and provide myself an opportunity to work out the process of Skyping class to class – we will be having a practice Skype with our principal.
PBL is one of my TPGPs for this year. I will not be tackling it this week, but I will be integrating PBL in my teaching throughout the year.
4. Love what I do and share the passion
My passion for teaching is certainly related to my passion for all student learning and passion to create positive change in the world. Learning is the door to embracing life and enjoying our short role in the amazing production of humanity. The more we know, the more amazing the world becomes, and the more we realize our individual gifts are needed to better our world. My students deserve all of this – to be in awe of life and feel needed.
So I dug a little deeper to search for some of my personal passions to help ignite love of learning in my class. I have always been an avid reader. I love books, and more specifically, I love young adult fiction. As a result, I will inject my enthusiasm for teaching and learning through book talks. I have recently begun the book ‘Wonder’ by R. J. Palacio, which has similar themes to ‘Out of My Mind’, in addition to it being a wonderful book. So, I will be delivering a book talk about ‘Wonder’ to my students to help encourage love of reading.
Get them moving. I often do math aerobics when my students have been in their seats too long. I write a basic multiplication sentence on the whiteboard. The first person to correctly answer gets to choose an activity the students must do, such as jumping jacks, in the quantity of the product.
This week I will integrate physical activity in my literacy lesson. I will have balls with words we have currently brought up in class, such as the word envious. A student will throw said ball at the class. If the student who is hit by the ball can come up with a synonym and an antonym for the word on the ball, they get to be the thrower. This idea was inspired by the ‘Mix it Up’ portion of the Edutopia article.
This week to make things more visual, I will be integrating a teacher led skit in my math lessons to demonstrate the strategy of borrowing in subtraction.
7. Student Choice
Seeing as we are at the end of the novel ‘Out of my Mind’, it is time for a culminating assessment! I will allow my students to choose from a list of options for this activity. I have used Gardner’s theory on multiple intelligences to guide the choices I provide so that all types of learners may engage with this culminating assessment. Here is a list of the options I will provide:
· Act out a key scene from the book
· Create a poster encouraging understanding for others’ disabilities
· Write a journal entry from the main character’s perspective
· Stage an interview between a news reporter and the main character
· Create a comic strip in the day in the life of the main character
8. Student Ownership
I admit that I should be better at this. I, as many teachers do, want to be at the helm of my classroom. If I am not directing the flow of my classroom, I feel I am not doing my job to facilitate learning. Perhaps it is time that I challenge myself to structure the activities to encourage more student ownership.
This week I will ask myself "How would I feel if I were this student?" when considering student interaction with their learning.
I will also try better to ask my students for a ’Start, Stop and Continue’ feedback sheet after lessons.
9. Mix it up
I feel the aforementioned activities all meet this goal.
10. Have fun as the teacher
My students’ laughter and insights can be infectious. So can my focus on ‘getting the job done’, and perhaps that is not for the best. When the last 5 minutes of the day arrives, do I allow my students to inquire more, or do I stop them to make sure they have their agendas filled out? More often than not, I choose the agenda. I need to combine these two things. I need to take the best of what my students love and the best of my focus on teaching, and bring them together. This week I will smile more and allow the students to embrace moments of personal inquiry and response. Not only do I want to have my students embrace these moments, I want to create opportunities to let these moments happen more often.