My first #EduRead of the summer was Hacking Questions by Connie Hamilton and I must say that it did not disappoint at all! This book was extremely affordable on Kindle and it was worth every penny. I had originally heard of the Hacking series a few summers back from a podcast, but this was the first one I had read. Each of the "hacks" is presented in a clear manner, with easy-to-implement strategies, suggestions for overcoming challenges, and a classroom vignette to illustrate the hack in action. While there were several "hacks" that I plan to revisit when August comes, the chapter that struck me the most was Hack #3 - Punctuate Your Learning Time
For most of us, time is the enemy - especially in the classroom. There's never enough time to do it all. From lesson prep to grading to the actual teaching, every single minute seems to be accounted for. As a result, many of us (including me) see the minute hand inching toward bell time and have to make a decision of what to do - finish up this last little bit, trying to ekk out every possible second or wrap up and do a closure activity? Way too many times, I have chosen the former option and neglected to properly close out our learning time.
But, after reading this Hack, I am committed to doing a better job this year. The author shares this analogy that really struck home for me on the importance of closure:
"Relate it to your own daily routine. Don't you feel frazzled when you have to leave school quickly and do not have time to process the day and think about tomorrow? We naturally build in closure to our day, even if we did not finish what we set out to accomplish."I honestly had never related closure in the classroom with my personal closure of the day, but it makes perfect sense! When something happens and I'm rushing around after school to get to a meeting or whatever, I just feel "off". What if my students feel the same way at the end of our lessons? Have I given them the processing time they need to effectively summarize their learning and move the day out of working memory? Have I created problems for myself and other teachers in the future by not giving students time to make necessary connections?
After reading this Hack, I am more committed to intentionally creating closure opportunities in my classroom to "pull the lesson together, assess the learning, and help to set it in the students' minds." This may be through exit tickets at the end of class or other processing strategies throughout the lesson, but either way, I must make the choice to properly punctuate my learning time because according to the author:
"...it is crucial that we use the limited time to maximize learning. Five more minutes of engaging in a task are not as likely to impact students as five minutes of reflection."I don't know about you, but that's powerful...
For more information on this book and its author, includings a ton of free printables for the classroom, visit the Hacking Questions website!
What are your favorite closure strategies / prompts?