I am doing my practicum prep for the three weeks of December that I'm going to be teaching. I am prepping to do something radical.
I'm prepping to fail.
I'm prepping to fail because I want to be great.
Yeah, that's right. I'm prepping to fail because I want to be great. I want to try something that is pretty radically different than the students have had before. It's a totally different way of teaching and learning and understanding. It's from the alignment of Standards Based Grading genuises like Dan Meyer, Mathy McMatherson, and my own real life mentor Jeremy Inscho.
They have this (not so radical) concept that if you break math down into it's simple bits and allow students to self pace through them, while teaching mini-lessons for comprehension and new concepts, students will take charge of their own learning and get through the material with deeper understanding and a drive to succeed.
It requires a lot of up-front work from the teacher. You can't just crack open your textbook and fly at her each day. You need to have the materials and Wall Of Remediation set up so you aren't back and forth, printing, running around, and scrambling to teach older concepts.
This is what I'm prepping to fail on. I want to set this up and get it going, but it means I need to have space and time and take LOTS of notes on what is failing so I can fix it and make things smooth.
Do you prep to fail in your teaching?
I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on integrating more variation of the strands of ELA into my lessons. Looking back I can definitely see the trend to focus on reading, writing, and listening, and neglecting the viewing, speaking, and representing.
One thing I’m really interested in is how I can help the students who need to take notes, but aren’t strong at writing.
One big challenge I see is that even though I'm teaching 6th and 7th graders, they are still in a largely literal phase of development. When we practice note taking skills many of them still are trying to write every word. I'm working on how I can give them the ability to translate larger thoughts into short descriptions, but I know that one of the biggest challenges they will face in high school is that they will be in front of teachers who have to get through so much content, they can't slow down and take the time to let students process the information.
Making that connection, for me, informs a huge chunk of my practice in giving students the time to process and then apply the information we are covering in class. I have already started to move towards a mini-lesson type instruction. I try to never speak for more than 10-15 minutes. If I am teaching a particularly complex topic, I try to break it into reasonable chunks that can be practiced or applied. I'm also finding that this is giving me great engagement in my class. Now I just need to help my students make the connection that not everything has to be done (or dictated) all at once.
Assessment drives my metaphor for travel.
One of my Twitter mentors is a Principal in Courtney. Kyle Timms and I had the opportunity to discuss a view of how we should use assessment in our classrooms, schools, districts, and lives. The simile is that assessment is like Google Maps. It's actually a really brilliant simile!
Are you a teacher with a single iPad classroom? I've been talking to lots of single iPad teachers and I keep hearing about how hard it is to get excited about only having a single iPad in the classroom. We all see so many great blogs and Twitter feeds about 1:1 iPad settings where everyone has great Wi-Fi in the classroom and tables, couches, beanbags, and whiteboards aplenty.
But that isn't reality for all of us. In my practicum classroom we have Wi-Fi (albeit slow!), a projector, whiteboards, a SD issued laptop, and an Elmo. All said, that's pretty decent. I know several of my Vancouver Island University colleagues have the miraculous overhead projector and are becoming fast experts at getting a chalkboard clean at the end of every lesson. I still bring in my own iPad, and use it for all sorts of good tech integration into our classroom. For the purposes of today's post, I'm going to assume that each of you reading this has an iPad and a projector (and the correct equipment to connect the iPad to the projector via dongle or AppleTV).
One great thing about the iPad is that if you have good file management you can save pictures of your students work for future assessment purposes. You can also take those photos and mark them up, which will eventually mean that you're going to get rid of your document camera. (When you do, hand your doc camera to the most tech phobic teacher in your school. It's the gateway to wanting more tech, or so says Shawn Davids).
So which app should you use for your doc camera needs? I prefer Notability. It's $2.99 but it's useful for any number of purposes.
Below you see the opening screen. You can see that there are multiple folders you can create that will allow you to organize your information. I have a folder called Math and within it I have Unit 1. To the right you can see that each student can have their own collection of pages.
Once you tap on a student's name, there are multiple options you can play with to find the right layout for every lesson and need. If you click the little wrench you will see a bunch of options, but one is Paper. The picture below shows the paper options you can use!
Just to the right of that is a little icon that looks like multiple pieces of paper. That shows you a quick thumbnail shot of all the different pages in this student's Math Unit 1 Notebook. On the top right corner of each thumbnail page is a little bookmark. If you select that bookmark it will highlight the page to save it for later. You can pull it up by the little bookmark icon (just below and to the left of the red circle). This is ideal when you see something you want to bring up later for conferences, assessment, or IEP meetings.
If you click the plus button (and by now, you should know that the plus button always adds something, everywhere in the iOS & Mac OS), you'll get a bunch of options of things you can add to your student's page. The two you'll probably use most often are Photo and Take A Photo.
In your class, if you're on the go all the time and just taking photos for your blog, Twitter feed, or to mark up later, you're going to want to use Photo.
If you are standing in front of a student in the very moment and want a photo use Take A Photo.
ProTip: Take a photo of a page that your student is going to read to you, then click that little microphone link to the left of the plus button and record the student reading. You can go back and listen to the reading while marking later. Plus you can also track and listen to recordings over the course of the year. Insta-Awesome Assessment.
If you click this little pencil tool, you can have a variety of sizes and colours to choose from for marking up all your notes, photos, and work! You can also see an example of how I use this in my classroom just below that.
If you have any questions, don't hesitate to leave a comment!
I respond to Sarah, Mrs. Moore, Mrs. Smoore, Miss Sarah, (and sometimes Mom!). I have been an DL (homeschool!) teacher for 2 years and am now a proud member of the SD35 team!