Saturday, January 31, 2015

Word of wisdom, a good reminder

I was telling a colleague about a great couple of days I'd been having with my students as we tweaked a way they were responding to open-ended prompts.  When I finished telling him about how engaged my students were, he smiled and said, "Huh....and you didn't use a single piece of technology!"  And then he went on a rant about how pushing technology into our classrooms isn't always the best thing for our kids.

Displaying IMG_0486.JPGI didn't agree with everything he said, but there is some truth about the level of engagement when you do something simple like hand kids paper and markers and let them collaborate and think aloud together.  Maybe because we use so much technology that paper and marker seems like fun?

I was moving our kids from a RADD+C form of response (restate, answer, give details, and conclude) to a RACER format (restate, answer, cite evidence, explain, and review). I call it a "tweak" of what they'd done because everything was familiar except the Explain part.

The first day, we worked on one together as I modeled a response to a test question they were familiar with.  The second day, I gave them another familiar test question and they had to create a graphic organizer and their responses on poster paper.  I was SO impressed with their conversations, how they handled different opinions, and how they came to consensus.

Displaying IMG_0487.JPG
Displaying IMG_0488.JPGThe third day, we did a gallery walk and discussed what we liked and what we thought needed to be improved from the posters we'd seen hanging around the room.

And on Monday, they will write out a response to something they read earlier in the week, and I'll get to for whom this format works, and who still needs a little help with it.

I'm really thrilled about what I saw.  And, as my colleague reminded me by his rant, just using poster paper and some colored markers can still be a fun experience for kids at this age!

Have a wonderful weekend!  We have snow in the forecast for Sunday night (again - but it's never amounted to much.)  Still, the thrill of snow is still exciting right now!


Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hopes and dreams in 2015

I hope 2015 is a good year for you!  I was looking at a friend's facebook post yesterday and she proclaimed 2014 her best year yet.  And it was for her, with her husband and a healthy six-month old baby girl.  For me, losing my mom, brother, sister, and a dear friend within 9 months?  Not so much.

It's all in your perspective, isn't it?

And that's why I was so delighted with the writing my students did in response to Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" contest, sponsored by Scholastic.  Here are parts of their thoughtful writing:

Here's another one:

And finally,
And then he concludes:

When I get tired of all the sad news in the world, when I'm frustrated by people who think they know what's best for teachers even though they've never set foot in a classroom, when I walk alongside someone who's recently been widowed.....

....that's when I turn to my students' writing.  Because they are so full of hope, still so full of possibilities.  They are the next generation and their dreams are still big.  And my plan for 2015 is to keep their dreams alive the best I can.

Here's to a happy and healthy 2015!