Monday, August 15, 2016

Start, Stop, Continue

I love this time of year.  Planning for the new school year is in full swing and you get a fresh start.  No matter what has happened in the past, you get a brand new group of students and you can do anything, change anything, keep anything.  You can build a better classroom every year.

This year, that main thing that I am going to start is student reflection after each station (twice per day) in my hybrid classroom.  The reason that I'd like to do this is to prevent kids from just going through the motions.  Often I feel like my students don't metacognate about their learning.  I want to them to really think about what they have learned and what they have done and accomplished.  I may do this less often as the year progresses, maybe once per day or once per rotation after I know that students have started to become more reflective.

The thing that I am going to stop doing is more like something that I am going to modify.  I love standards based grading.  This will be my third year using this instructional approach.  Since it is still relatively new to me, I am continuing to make changes to make it fit better.  The first thing that I will be changing is the way that I do weekly quizzes.  In the past, I have tried putting two questions from each objective on each quiz, one on grade level and one advanced.  I allowed kids to earn a "meets expectations = 80%" by getting the grade level question correct and an "exceeds expectation = 100%" by answering the above grade level correctly.  I also kept each objective on the quiz until the class average on the objective was at least 80%.  After that, I allowed students to earn the 100% but they had to go through a retest procedure after school.

This year, I think that I am only going to give one question of each objective.  To earn the 80% I'll have students solve the problem correctly with all work shown.  To earn the 100%, I'll have them solve the problem correctly with all the work and explain why they chose the solution method that they did.  I'll also keep each objective on the weekly quizzes until the end of the marking period.  Students can still come in for additional help after school, but they can have more freedom with the base of their learning.

The thing that I am going to keep the same is the way that I have been using hybrid learning.  This will be my fourth year teaching in this set-up.  I will make some small changes but for the most part I will keep the same process.  I'll be starting with a 'station' of whole group instruction were I will mostly likely introduce a new objective.  Then, students will move to the independent station where they will most likely be learning a new objective through a video on EdPuzzle.  Next, students will go to the direct station.  This station has the greatest variety.  Sometimes students will practice on mini whiteboards using Kagan strategies, other times students will work on a project.  Finally, students will go to the collaborative station where they will work in a smaller group on a task.  The tasks are varied and could be a project or a fun practice structure.  Other times, entire rotations or parts of rotations may be focused to reteaching/reviewing past objectives that students need more help with.

I'm sure that I will end up making more changes as the year progresses, but I like to think through all the biggest changes before the start of the year.  Here's to another great year!

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