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Monday, December 16, 2013

T'was the week before Christmas Break...

And all through the school students and teachers alike are anxiously awaiting for the final bell on Friday!

While I may still be relatively new at teaching, one thing I have learned with the week leading up to Winter Break is you can't really do your usual routine.  It more than likely won't work.  This is an ideal time to be a little more laid back and have fun with your lessons.  Continue to make them rigorous, but make them fun as well.  Your students will be forever grateful that you did!

Here are some suggestions to do with your class:

  • Projects (Have the project due on Friday - all they do is present :))
  • Have group work for each day - do jigsaw, gallery crawl, presentations, 
  • Watch a movie of a text you just finished and have students compare text to the movie (Many school districts do not approve of movies, but if assignments that go along with it are rigorous and involve students comparing media to text and discussing differences, it is CC aligned!)
  • Choice board - great for introducing a new unit in a fun way or or use a Choice board as a test and give students projects in the choice board that they can complete in the course of one or two days.
Keep in mind that it's not that students don't want to learn the week before a break, they just have other things occupying their minds that they are not as likely to be invested in their academics.  We just need to step up our lesson plans and make it interesting, fun, and engaging.


Ms. Bergin

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Nuggets of December

Hey y'all!

We are in the midst of the Holiday season!  One week left to Christmas break, or the more politically correct title, "Winter Break".  I cannot believe how fast time has flown.  It seems only the other day I had wrote on the blog, just to find out it was last month.  Oh boy, I truly need to step up on the blogging. :)  

My students have been working feverishly on their Romeo and Juliet projects, and I am so excited to see the final product on December 20th.  As I have mentioned in my previous post, there are three sets of projects - a movie, a newspaper, and an advertisement.  As I work with the students on their projects, I realize that  I truly love teaching best when students are working on projects, not doing basic run of the mill "old standard teaching".  Gone are the days where sitting in rows and kill and drill methods are effective. Kill and drill methods can be effective, in some aspect, but not for all.  Gone are the days where students are capable of sitting in desk and listening to lectures, doing cornell notes, whole class discussions, etc.  It's all about group work, collaboration, using laptops, and utilizing 21st century skills.

I have been doing intensive research into Project Based Learning, more commonly known as PBL.  An effective PBL classroom has the students choosing a project to do and the teacher revolves any mandatory mini lessons around the project.  For example, if a class decides to write a novel, the teacher can teach theme, characterization, point of view to assist them in creating their novel.  I am blown away by High Tech High, located in California.  They are truly an exemplar at PBL.  I can only hope that as I move towards PBL in my classroom, that I become as good as the teachers at High Tech High!

I have backed off on editing papers myself and started allowing my students to edit one another's papers.  It gives me my time back, and allows the students to learn from one another.  I developed a Critique packet that has several different methods of critiques, based on Ron Berger.  My students LOVE it. It gives them a chance to talk out where they're going with their papers, get (extremely honest) feedback on how to improve, what they do well on.  To students, they take to heart what their friends say, not necessarily what the teachers say.  This also teaches the 21st century skill of collaboration. Look for the packet on TPT, coming soon!

Happy Thursday!

Ms. Bergin