Back to the past in future…

February 7, 2015 at 6:50 PM Leave a comment

We have an entire set of iPads, I am so grateful, and we use them all the, all the time. And a beautiful SMART board too. Thank you to our generous Parents’ Club.

But here’s the big learning for me this school year: using a whiteboard and notebooks is so much more flexible and fun (for me) than planning a detailed worksheet and a SMART board presentation ahead of time. I still do that sometimes, but it’s no longer the backbone of the lesson. It’s sort of ironic that it’s back to aspects of how I was teaching 30 years ago.

We start most lessons by gathering round the whiteboard with notebooks in hand. The lesson title is in the form of a challenge or question. Students set up their notebooks with the title, then maybe talk to their neighbor and write what they already sort of know about the day’s topic. Maybe there is a video clip, or a short presentation by me, a few directions and they are off to answer the question or meet the challenge, frequently involving some internet research or video clip viewing. I use the School Loop class website and put the links at the end of that day’s lesson plan online. The iPads allow a much more student-centered classroom, and allow them more choice for modality, order and timing.

Students really, really like NOT having a worksheet a day. They like thinking and writing for themselves. I roll around from table to table on my comfy teacher chair and chat with them about the cool stuff they are finding out. Or about how they are doing. It’s a great time to give quick, verbal feedback on homework too.

10 minutes from the end of class, we gather back together to share what we learned – kids write notes from each others’ research. We do NOT grade notebooks for content, just for completion and detail about every week or 10 days.

Are they actually learn as much as the more traditional fill-in-the-space worksheet?

While notebooks are used for thinking and learning, we do give worksheets that ARE graded for content at regular intervals, as well as unit tests and other assessments.

Motivation is so closely linked to the relationship with their teacher and I am way more relaxed with this new/old format, I’m more engaged and learning something about them and the topics too. This feels like the friendliest year ever, in 30 years of teaching. We are on track with the curriculum and their scores on similar tests are at least as high as in previous years. So I think the answer is ‘yes’. I so recommend this shift that is also recommended by our NGSS training from Lawrence Hall of Science BaySci consultants.  Your thoughts? Your experiences with notebooking? Please let us know below!


Entry filed under: Assessment and grading, Class Management, Education Psychology, Inquiry and critical thinking, Reflections, Research Skills, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , .

Getting started with notebooks in science Learning and the Brain – What do YOU think?

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