Saturday, February 28, 2009

Weekend Ramblings...

What a week! I was asleep last night by 8:30 due to sheer exhaustion. It wasn't a bad week, just crazy busy! I'm getting a student teacher this next week, so getting ready for that has taken some time, plus it's enrollment time, etc etc etc :) This post is just a random smattering of ideas that I wanted to share, so please excuse the "brain dump" :)

Do any of you use "webquests" in the classroom? I have been trying to brainstorm ways to get my kiddos more involved in class by using more active-learning techniques. So far, it seems to be working, but I would like to push it further for next year. I ran across some stat webquests and they look like an interesting idea. Next year, I am planning on redoing my classroom website to be more of an online classroom. I've looked at Moodle and some of the other e-learning platforms and hoping to find the right one for me. Any suggestions on programs to look at?

I also figured out how to do "retakes" yesterday on my morning commute. I have a few students that just aren't getting it because they aren't doing the homework. So, I decided that in order for the student to *earn* the opportunity to retake, they had to show me evidence that they had done the homework. I think this will be manageable for me and has the added benefit of built in self-remediation.

I am also excited about the response from my collaboration post. By sharing the workload, I think life will be happier overall. I love the idea of active learning, but I was so afraid of feeling overwhelmed by creating all of those lessons. This way, I have other people to read, share, comment, critique, etc and life is much happier overall :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009


As I posted the other day, I am interested in revamping my entire curriculum in order to make my students work more and me less. The goal would be to create small group activities where my students have to read and write more and be more active in their learning while I circle the room. After they've worked through the activity, I will bring them back to a whole-class setting to discuss what they've learned and officially define vocab, etc. I've tried it for a few activities recently and the students have had positive response. The most important part for me is that they are having to *read* and understand what they've read rather than me *telling* them what's important info. I'm hoping this will lead to a stronger conceptual understanding of the material overall.

I would like to find some like-minded people that would be interested in collaborating on this project, to share some of the work and to act as a sounding board for each other. If interested, let me know :)

Interesting Article

I don't know how many of you read the NY Times, but today there was an article posted on an education site that I visit. (Here is the article)

Anyway, the gist of the article is that many college professors are seeing students who believe they are entitled to good grades due to effort rather than meeting the standards. I see this in my K12 classes too. I have a girl in one of my geometry classes that came to me last week and asked why she was failing. I pointed to the 30 she made on a test and suggested that may be part of it. Her response was "But I've done all the work!". I agree, she has done all of the work, not a missing paper in sight - however, the quality of the work is not at a passing level.

I don't know how to fix this, but I do foresee it getting worse before it gets better.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The *A-Ha* moment :)

I have taught for 11 years, stat for 9 of those and this weekend I had an "A-Ha" moment! I went to a 2-day workshop and both of the presenters mentioned that they like to do "discovery" lessons. Now, I've always considered myself part of that movement, but mostly with my Geometry classes. During the presentations and the days following, I've decided that I am doing too much work and the kids aren't doing enough.

Now what does this mean for me? It means this summer is going to be a MASSIVE undertaking of revamping my materials to be more reading/writing for the kids, more workshop-style activities. I'm a bit overwhelmed thinking about it :) I've always been hands-on, but typically it's been a review type activity, not an "active-learning" style activity. I tried it today with hypothesis tests. I created a handout that walked them through the thought process behind an HT with lots of notes and questions and then I let them work all hour rather than me working all hour. Tomorrow I will find out if it worked :) BUT - kids that typically stare at me seemed a lot more engaged than normal so I'm kind of excited about it.

I have decided that I need to create a index notebook with a piece of paper labeled for every chapter that I can jot ideas in and reference workshops/handouts/etc. After 9 years of teaching this, I have more *stuff* than I can keep track of in my mind, so I need a paper "brain" to help me keep organized :)

I would love to hear your ideas on this!