F-words for the Final Weeks

May 14, 2012 at 9:05 PM Leave a comment

Getting to that ‘sit the f- down and shut up!’ time of year. I could feel myself sliding into temper and it’s so useless and sad too, to bomb all the good will built up over the year.

I casually asked a student why they loved one of our teachers so much and he said ‘I’m not a great student or anything, and she grades really hard. But she’s really friendly.’

Friendliness, what a simple concept.

Then was reading an Edutopia blog about what makes class rooms work. A teacher who can create a sense of family wins over all other factors. Family.

So I’ve dragged my head up from crankiness and keep those two words in mind as I’m designing curriculum, planning out the day, and dealing with classes and individual students. What if I take the more friendly choice with a kid who’s still chatting while I’m trying to get class started? What if I imagine that I’m the mom in a big family where we all have to find a way to get along? It’s much easier to be relaxed thinking of it like that, somehow. Less like me against them. It’s really helping.

And finally, fun.

Review for a big test coming up. + fun?

Have to share a modesty-aside way to run a review that was amazingly fun and effective. Take notes, print this out. Maybe it’ll help you too 🙂

1. Take pics throughout the year of kids doing the more interesting labs and activities. Store in labeled folders or in iPhoto.

2. Make into a slide show for each unit. Put in a few captions of the main concepts being taught in each lab, not too many. Set to up beat music that they like. Used Ratatat, Green Day, Modest Mouse and some Beatles. Classic rock, what’s not to like? (Maybe good to preview Das Racist. Ooops.) These first two steps can be skipped by the way – you can just do the quiz game that follows.

3. Organize the desks so you can wizz around table groups fast.

4. Hand out 1 white board +pen per table group. Have 1 cup labeled with the table number on each table.

5. Ask a question. Circulate with pebbles or beans or beads. Put one or two into each cup where they have the right answer written down.

6. Ask if any of them have a question on this topic for the class. Reward with a pebble in their cup if it’s a useable question.

7. Ask a mix of easy and/or single word answer questions with more open-ended questions that might have multiple answers.

8. Have the writer change with each new question.

9. At the end of the review session, weigh the cups of pebbles. Give small prizes to members of the winning group.

Advantages over Jeapordy-type quiz games: multiple answers can be right and rewarded. The time pressure is eased allowing kids to think better and collaborate a bit. Reduces the domination by the two or three brightest students. Allows open ended questions and higher level thinking type questions too.

It was really, really fun. Total engagement and best of all, many students reported feeling confident as they took their standardized tests.

Entry filed under: Assessment and grading, Class Management, Critical Thinking, Education Psychology, Reflections. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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