Thursday, August 30, 2018

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Ethics

My goal in introducing students to the concept of ethics is to not just have them evaluate a situation based on what they believe, but also to make an argument to support their side. It's very difficult in the beginning. They want to say the "right" answer, so if you start asking them questions, they will change sides and go along with what you say. I am careful to stress that there is no wrong answer for these activities. If they say the Grinch was right to steal Christmas as long as they have an argument to back it up, I'm fine with that-it's their opinion.

We read the story Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. At the end of the story the letters venture back up the tree even though they already fell down once. Was that the right thing to do? You can see from the answers that many students either were not able to make an argument or they just thought for example it was right because that's what happened. I LOVE to see the progress they make in this area throughout the year.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

My Classroom This Year

I had trouble deciding on a theme for my class this year. I literally filled up my cart at Teacher Heaven and then took everything out and started again. My school is an environmental science magnet so I decided to go with a forest theme. It's not done yet

I'm so excited about this corner this year. Our school won a grant for makerspace materials. The books are all maker-related and then we got tons of things for the kiddos to build and create with.

Word Wall

Hall bulletin board

Library with back to school books.

My library corner-it didn't turn out quite like I wanted it too but I like it.

My board for objectives, a visual schedule for the kids and our friends and family board.

What do you think? What is the theme for your classroom this year?

Friday, August 3, 2018

You Teach Without Worksheets?

We hired a brand new teacher for our team this year and she contacted me with some questions  as she begins to plan. One of her questions was "where do you get your worksheets-do you buy them or make them". My answer was neither. I do not use worksheets in my classroom.Everything my students do is authentic. They write every day-on paper and in journals. Their work is based on their creativity and vision. Her question then was-how do you know they are learning? This is how.

When they work in workstations-I believe as Debbie Diller promotes, that it's a time to practice skills. How do you hold them accountable? Two ways-one is I use Seesaw, the kids take pictures of their activities whether they are sorting letters or matching letters and sounds. I go through and look at the pics they take to see if they have mastered that skill. The other way is I am vigilant. Even though I'm working with my small groups, I am monitoring the stations to make sure the students are doing what they have been tasked to do. I have worked for administrators who require some kind of written accountability. When that happens I do menus.

I do not send home packets over breaks and subs have complained because my sub plans look very much like my regular lesson plans. I don't want my kids sitting in their seats doing worksheet after worksheet even if I'm not there.

Even our homework is authentic. I do a menu that gives the families options of what to complete in reading and math. It may be to make a pattern using pasta or to count the letters in the names of family members and see whose is longest. I used to send home worksheets every day because that's what the parents were used to, but I think it's just a waste of paper. If they already know how to do it, then why do they need to practice. If they don't know how to do it, then it shouldn't be expected to be completed independently.

So what does authentic work look like?

The more opportunities you give your students for channeling their creativity the more growth you will see in them! And believe me, their parents will still hang the work on the refrigerator. :)