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Showing posts from October, 2017

Accountable Actions

Whiteboards, Chromebooks, and Academic Discussions...Oh my! Accountability. However you decide to spin it, we need to make our students accountable for their learning. I really enjoyed spending time in the Science Department this week and observing how they make their students accountable for the content covered in their classes. While we can assess our students on unit tests and quizzes, student accountability can and should be measured throughout the entire class period. It was such an awesome learning experience to observe how different teachers and science discipline teams make students accountable. Their instructional techniques for student accountability can be adapted for any class or subject area. Whiteboarding As I walked past Biology and Physics classrooms, I noticed a pattern: As students completed labs, they were writing, drawing, calculating, and/or graphing on a whiteboard. I learned from Ms. Katie Matt that in Biology, they want their students to demonstrate their u

Student Advocacy - Moving Past Points

How many points is this worth? How can I get more points? What is the point of this? Can I earn my points back? Sound familiar??? Unfortunately, we live in an educational culture that is driven by points and grades. While we need to assess our students and provide feedback, how can we make students not as concerned about points and more concerned about their personal and academic growth? This feat is easier said than done; however, encouraging advocacy and reflection in our classrooms is a great starting point in establishing this type of culture. As I visit the Science Department this week, I am constantly reminded about the importance of processing, sharing, questioning, and reflecting. At the Birkett Freshmen Center, a group of Biology teachers decided to focus on advocacy and reflection in their classrooms. One of our action items as a school this year is to promote advocacy with our students. How can we "recognize the barriers that students experience?" Dr. Lance Fuh

The Competitive Edge

If you are like me, I am easily motivated by some sort of competition. I am competitive and love a challenge in all areas of my life. In the classroom, things are no different. As a student, I always strived to get the right answer, win my argument, or be on the winning team during an activity. As a teacher, I've found that one of the easiest ways to motivate my students to get excited about learning is to make it a competition. Motivate them to get the right answer by making it a challenge of some sort. The only thing that scares me about this is that a majority of students forget about the PROCESS and focus only on the right answer in order to win. How do I  know this, you ask? Well for one, I am the same way...I race to finish and get the "right" answer. Secondly, I have witnessed it firsthand in my own classroom and classrooms I've visited.  I really enjoyed visiting the math department this week and witnessing the awesome things they do on a daily basis to challe

Finding Time

47 minutes....the amount of time we have each day to teach a lesson, answer questions, differentiate instruction, assess, and connect with our students. As teachers, this time flies by as we work to cover a certain amount of content and give our students time to start on/complete their assignments. While we always have high hopes to teach a lesson and give the students time, the reality is that having only 47 minutes makes this task difficult. Regardless of this obstacle, teachers really have to make student time a priority in their classroom. As I visit the Math Department this week,  I've found that it is essential for teachers to give students time to process, work, question, understand, and collaborate during these 47 minutes in order help them actually grasp the material at hand. And this is the truth for all classes students take throughout the school year. Time to Process We all know that students need time to process information. It can be very easy to call on the stu

Making Connections

"Making connections is our most crucial learning tool, the essence of human intelligence; to forge links; to go beyond the given; to see patterns, relationships, and context" (Marilyn Ferguson). I am taking a break from my weekly observations and finding some time to reflect on all that I have learned from my colleagues. I find that if I don't take time to reflect, I often struggle to make sense of the wonderful takeaways from my learning experiences, and wow...I have learned so much over the past few weeks as I visited various teachers and different departments.  Two really awesome things have happened since I've started visiting classrooms, and they have reenergized me as a teacher and instructional coach:  1. Students are excited to see teachers when they visit other classrooms I have met so many new students over the past few weeks. As I observe different classes, I like to ask the students what they are learning and to show me their learning artifacts

Hide and Seek

I see you. Yes, I see every single one of you...despite the fact that most of you look down anytime I pose a question, ask for input, or request someone to model an activity in class. can't hide from me. I will make you accountable. I will make you take ownership of your learning. I will ask you to show me how and what you learned. #What'sup now? Student accountability is an essential element of a dynamic learning environment. We all know that teachers must provide instruction, direction, modeling, examples, life lessons, and more to students in their classes; however, we must make ALL of our students accountable for their work and learning process. At times, this can be difficult, as we have material to get through during a lesson, and it is easy to just call on the students that constantly raise their hands and volunteer. The question becomes, how do we enable ALL students to take accountability for what they are learning? Better can we do this during a

Listen Up

Hello? Do you hear me? Are you there? Do you have a response? I ask these questions pretty consistently in my classroom after I pose a question and a sea of emotionless faces just stare back in my direction. Julian Treasure, a sound expert, stated that "listening is our access to understanding," but if our students are not responding, how do we know they are listening? To make matters worse, in our society today, most people are disengaged from conversations because their eyes and attention are glued to their phones. We are "great" multitaskers, but the question becomes, do we actually listen  when we are not 100% focused on the topic at hand? The art of listening - passive and active listening - has taken over my mind this week as I visit World Language classrooms and struggle to comprehend the lesson, activity, and expectations because the teachers are speaking in a different language. I've had to listen very carefully, ask students for clarification, and al