Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Braindump of ideas...

I just needed to get these out on "paper" in order to process them... and to make sure I don't forget them!! :)

* I really do like the idea of a wiki or blog for the kids to post daily or weekly or chapter summaries... Not sure how to implement this though, nor how to grade it. I don't want to change around my entire class website either, so I need to figure out how to implement it within that structure... Some grading ideas can be found here

* Another teacher I know has the kids create a study guide throughout the year with the thought of the AP exam in May. She has them take their chapter examples and a summary sheet of each chpater and compile them into a notebook. I like this idea - to build a study guide throughout the year. However I'm wondering what else should be included. Should it have some basic notes/instructions?? Some questions from the textbook? Vocab? If so, would this all be bundled as a "packet" handed out at the beginning of the chapter? Would kids regard this as busy work?

* Just ran across another interesting idea regarding partner quizzes. If the kids have their homework completed on time, they can earn the priviledge of taking a partner quiz. Of course, homework isn't required in my class, but I still thought it was an interesting idea to have the kids earn it.

* Second semester this year, I let the kids do test corrections for 1 week after the test was graded. They had to earn the opportunity by showing evidence of having done the homework or review. They had to explain why they messed up and then rework the problem correctly. I really liked this and plan to continue it. It had built-in remediation because the kids had to do their homework (if they hadn't already), plus they had to self-assess their errors.

* Speaking of HW, I was nervous about not requiring HW at the beginning. However, most kids really matured over the year! I still had some kids that wouldn't do it and their grades were low (I've never had this rate of D/F grades), BUT, I also had kids that went from minimial homework and C grades to almost every problem and high Bs because they had more control of their grade. By doing the homework, they did better on the quizzes (since the quizzes were from the HW). Overall, I think by giving the kids more control, they benefited more than if I had required it. While I hate that I had kids that did poorly and never learned that lesson, I would rather them learn it in HS than when it costs them a lot of money in college.

* I plan to give up more control this year and be more of a faciliator than a lecturer. I tried this 2nd semester and started most topics out with an activity that walked the kids through the gist of the topic. They had to read, discuss, write, and be more active in their learning overall. One kid summed it up when he said "I like doing the activities first before you teach the material - it gives my brain something to attach the lecture to!" Wow - what a profound statment! Making connections really helps material stick in their heads rather than just "renting" the material til the quiz/test.

* This year I had study groups for the kids to work with. This year, I think I want to modify that, either by assigning them to new seating charts (and new partners/triplets) every 9 weeks or something. The groups did not work out how I wanted them to. I had hoped they would get together outside of class, and some did in partners, but not as a group overall.

* Back to the online issue... I would really like to incorporate more online learning. I did online review quizzes on a weekly basis and I did like that more than doing them in-class. With the online feature, they could call up their buddy, talk through a problem, use their book/notes and the instant feedback was great for the kids. Some kids really preferred to do them in class, but I hated the time constraint that imposed and online gave them the freedom to really understand what hte question was asking and reach out for help. I would like to increase the online component using webquests, stat software, etc.

* Just found this website... Interesting review games, PPT timers... check it out :) http://people.uncw.edu/ertzbergerj/ppt_games.html

I'm sure I'll add more later...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Class Blogs and Other stuff

Yesterday was my official last day of school - woot! After an uneventful Friday (which was wonderful after Thursday's fiasco!), I spent the weekend cleaning the backyard, going to a retirement party, etc. Yesterday I was pretty sore from the yard work, so packing up my room was a SLOW process :)

I leave for the reading on Thursday, so today I ran errands... bought a new suitcase, a few new clothes, and assorted other random items. Speaking of random... does anyone know where to buy "Key Lime Pie Mints" - they are the green and white swirled mints. I love those and wanted to have some in my purse for the trip.

While catching up on my blog reader this evening, I ran across this comment:

"I taught English, so we’re talking two different beasts here, but something I tried that went over with moderate success was having kids post class notes to our class wiki on a weekly, not daily, basis. Each semester I’d ask the kids to pair up and I’d assign each pair a week of the semester – you’re Sept 9, you’re Sept 16, etc. – for which they were responsible for keeping detailed records of class discussion, lecture, activities, etc. By the following Tuesday, they had to post the class notes to the course wiki."

Does anyone else do this? I'm loving the idea of having a pair of kids post a weekly summary for the class! Any ideas on format, how to grade, etc?