Welcome back to the November edition of Teacher Wisdom. This time we focus on student engagement. How do we keep our students interested and focused while also addressing learning standards and content? I have some ideas that I’ve been trying in my classroom for many years while also trying out some new ideas! Read on and then don’t forget to click on the links below to find more tips and suggestions from other bloggers who contribute to the series.
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Something New: Chrome Books and Google Forms
|Chrome Cart with Chrome Books
My district is in the process of spending gazillions of bond money to purchase Chrome Book carts. Each cart has 28 – 33 Chrome Books. Each third through fifth grade class is supposed to have their own cart to use throughout the day. Currently, we have one cart shared between three third grade teachers. When I do have the Chrome Books I have stared using them with Google Forms. I just recently blogged about that HERE. It definitely keeps the students engaged! Instead of handing them a worksheet with text dependent questions, go paperless and use Google Forms (you can even embed videos, images and formulate all manner of SBAC type questions!). I started a Pinterest Board on using Google in the classroom. Consider following it HERE to find great pins on using Google in the Classroom.
|Using the Chrome Books for research
The students are super motivated to use the Chrome Books. You can hear a pin drop when they are all on them at the same time. Recently, I’ve learned how to turn a PDF into an editable or fillable form. So instead of making copies of the templates for a mini Endangered Animals Report, I created PDF fillable forms of the templates. The students open the templates on the Chrome Book and type in their report. Then once finished (and it even spell checks for them!), they email me the form and I print it from my laptop. Printing from a Chrome Book is difficult if not impossible, so we have to use this workaround. But in the end, the students are highly engaged with the research using QR Codes, taking notes, writing a paragraph and then typing it all in on the Chrome Book. When printed out, we trim the pages to look like an iPad and then we staple them pages together to create a mini-report.
I created a one page sample of the Endangered Animals PDF Fillable Form for you to try out. In the sample is a link to a Google Form for you to submit feedback. If you fill out the form, I will email you the complete sample for you to try out with your students as a thank you. You can download the one page SAMPLE HERE.
So I guess we have to face it. These kids need and want technology all day long. Why not incorporate it into daily work, projects and even assessments? My oldest son attends 6th grade at a 1:1 school, so every kid in his class is given an iPad. Needless to say, I think he’s turned into a Borg…that iPad is glued to him and I have to pry it off him every night before bedtime.
|Get the one page sample of this form!
Something Old: Marilyn Burns
If you’ve been teaching as long as I have, what goes around comes around. Anyone remember Marilyn Burns? When I first started teaching, we were very much encouraged to use her replacement units for math instruction instead of the adopted textbook. Then standardized testing took over and strict adherence to the book was in order. Guess what? Marilyn is back! In my district, we are receiving inservice training from Math Solutions trainers.
One aspect of the mathematical practices, is to have students use mathematical reasoning, test out solutions, defend solutions and critique the solutions of others. This first of three inservices re-introduced us to something that teachers may already be doing: Math Talk. This involves revoicing, repeating, reasoning, adding on and waiting to keep students engaged during math instruction. See the chart below for a an explanation of each one.
|Math Talk is great for keeping students engaged during math instruction
Something Borrowed: Rewarding Good Grades
A grade level colleague shared with me that she is rewarding her students’ good grades with a raffle ticket. Each time a student receives a score of passing (75% or more), then the student gets a raffle
|Reward effort and performance
ticket to an end of the month raffle. I thought this was a great idea to not only motivate the students to do well on assessments, but to reward them for their hard work. One of the hardest things to get third graders to engage in is to study for a test. If the students know their effort in studying will pay off and they will get a tangible reward if they pass, they are more likely to engage in studying and putting forth their best effort. It’s an idea I’m going to implement in the second trimester.
Something True: Disengaged Students Become Behavior Problems
What does a disengaged student look like? Sound like? Is that the student who seems to be almost asleep in class? Is that the student who is fiddling around with something in the desk or pocket? Is that the student who whisper talks to everyone while you are instructing? Is that the student who seemingly doesn’t care about anything school related? Maybe it’s part or all of these descriptors that describe that disengaged student. A disengaged student will become or already is a behavior problem in the classroom. It’s important to identify those students and get them engaged again or it will spread to other students. The best way to find out why a student is disengaged is to just talk to the student and see what is going on with the student. Then you can come up with a plan to re-engage the student.
Don’t forget to click below and read more suggestions and tips for student engagement from other bloggers participating in this series.