Chat Stations

This is a gallery walk of chat; a great activity to deepen understanding of a text, or as Kelly Gallagher would say, ‘2nd draft reading’.  In addition, this task promotes group discussions

I got the idea from Jennifer Gonzalez from the Cult of Pegadogy, a direct approach to student engagement.

My ELLs are in the midst of our ‘text tour’ of a unit on survival.  One of the texts is on the survival skills of the cockroach (an idea I got from Jeff Wilhelm).  To deepen their understanding of this complex article, I generated a few questions. By the way, I copied several questions from this excellent blog post.

We then reviewed the protocols for respectful group discussions.  (I have written about this in more detail in a previous post).

I then simply followed Gonzalez’ clear directions.

Next time, after learning about generating high level questions, the students will come up with their own questions.

3 Activities for the begining of the Year: setting the tone, building confidence

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Rather than hand out rubrics for expected student behaviors, the students themselves create a list of habits that make a good class.

Activity #1 Setting the tone of the class.

A few years ago I came across a handout with an important purpose question:  What makes a good class?  (Unfortunately,  I have no idea where I got this from).  The students complete this from two perspectives: theirs and the teacher’s. In order to help the students clarify their ideas they list  3-5 things a teacher and student must be, say or do to create a safe environment for students to succeed.  They worked in pairs and then in groups of four.  One student from each group reported out.  After listing the behaviors, we analyzed what habits a teacher and student share.

This is the anchor paper that is strategically placed in my class.

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The final step of this activity  is to complete the analogy:

A good class is like …

Here are some of the answers.

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I love the idea of a good class is like

a restaurant: you enter hungry and leave full or

a tree with many branches that grow of the teacher.

 

Activity #2 What the learners can expect to be doing in class.

Although I am obliged to read through and discuss the course guidelines with the students, they are not engaged.  However, I simplify a lesson plan created by Jim Burke  which gets them thinking, generating questions and discussing.

We look at the image of Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich.

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The students note where he is, what he is doing, and the details/objects in the image.  We then discuss how the wanderer reflects the beginning of their 9th grade journey; their hopes and fears.

Activity #3 What is success?  What does it look like?  Does it matter?

Each student drew the symbols of success on small whiteboards.  Then they read  (a jigsaw activity) an article on the habits of champions,  identified the big ideas and created a slide show.

Finally, as an exit note, they created a frozen statue of success.

This was as far as I was willing to let them go.

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Technology and Teaching

Technology should be an “agent of change in our teaching.” (N. Chatzopoulos).  Each time I choose a tech tool (what?) , I question my rationale (how? and why)?  I even keep a notebook with ideas on how to incorporate technology into my lessons,  so that my ELLs are creating and producing rather than simply consuming.

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With this in mind, I purchased The Teacher’s Guide to Tech by Jennifer Gonzalez.  I needed a reminder of the great tools that are out there, as well as to learn about some new, intriguing tech possibilities for teaching and learning.  I am familiar with Jennifer’s engaging blog so I was not disappointed with the guide.  It is clearly designed and Gonzalez gives you a comprehensive list of tools divided into categories with easy explanations and links on how to use them.

I often use TodaysMeet and Quizlet, and will continue to do so.  However, while scrolling through the guide, I learnt about so many other great tools students can use such as:

collaborating on the big ideas of an article with Padlet,

engaging in literary discussions on Skype,

and  creating multimedia PSA posters with Glogster.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I bought The Teacher’s Guide to Tech by Jennifer Gonzalez.

Summertime Reading

I wrote 4 summer reading lists.

  1.  PD Reads

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Texts and Lessons f0r Content-Area Writing by N.Steineke and H.Daniels

Visible Learning for Literacy by D.Fisher, N.Frey and J.Hattie

as well as:

140 Twitter Tips for Educators  which is on my kindle.

I have downloaded The teacher’s Guide to Tech by Jennifer Gonzalez and an e Book Jump In.  Great teaching begins in the Pool by Ruth Ayres

2.  YA Reads

I know that I must do more than just read reviews about trending YA books.  In order to guide my ELLs to books they’ll enjoy;  I will read the books first in order to create intriguing book talks.  So here are my summer YA reads.

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3. Personal  Reads

I cleared my book shelves recently and am still left with 2 shelves (plus a list of crime/thriller, comfort reading books on my Kindle) that I want to curl up with in my armchair.  What a choice!

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Harry Potter is there because I’d like to reread the magic.

 

4.  My read aloud list for my granddaughter

The greatest pleasure. Emily’s book shelves are filling up very quickly.

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Learning Targets

For years I have been writing the learning target of the lesson as an essential question.  I add the strategies/skills and activities that will help answer the focus question. This became the students’ study guide, and I refer to the ‘map’ throughout the lesson.

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One evening, as I was designing a lesson, I again looked through Morrison McGill’s 100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers for a refreshing idea and came across #55 ‘Spit it Out! (What? Why? How?)’.

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Ah ha!  Three obvious questions so easily forgotten;  questions we should always be asking our students.   However, I now target the learning by asking What? Why? How?  The questions clarify my lesson design, and I hope my ELLs  make better sense of the lesson.