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!