Kagan Stuctures, the Music Wand, and Brain Breaks
Yesterday I subbed in an excellent school with third graders. I brought several of my usual bag of tricks for experimentation. Kagan structures for collaborative work (or breaks) and the music wand to gain attention continue to be hits with the students. I used a brain break during an hour long session of math worksheets. As I ran around a tiny table in front of table groups, a hit in itself, the students stood up to perform “the wave”. When first being introduced to brain breaks, I wondered if the interruption would serve as a hindrance to getting back into the groove of working. To date, this has not been my experience. Students love the change in routine, then continue working with a wonderful attitude. It deepens the teacher/student relationship which is interesting.
Many in this group had not heard of twitter, yet this didn’t stop the enjoyment of tweeting about personal events. If the students worked hard, they could tweet on a large post-it anything of interest. Here’s my header post-it:
Best result of using this method was learning more about each student. I visualize book responses, predictions, and inferring author’s intent in a very informal style which can still stimulate higher level thinking. A winner idea courtesy of Pinterest.
Another experiment was the use of Class Dojo. Assuming I would not be using a computer in the classroom, I printed out a Class Dojo page with student roster numbers, table numbers, and one slot for “Whole Class”. Each slot has its own avatar in the appearance of a monster. I wish there were more monsters so each student could have an original image, but I believe I can create additional avatars if I choose. I’ll check into this later. I informed the students how I receive the best classes everytime I sub, but wanted a better way to brag to their teacher at the end of the day. Because of this, I printed out the avatar sheet. During the day, I would catch students performing three model behaviors: following directions, respecting people and property, and staying on task. There were no rewards from me, but I would leave the paper for the teacher so she could see how wonderfully her students behaved. Points, once earned, could not be taken away. This form of positive reinforcement was received very well for an initial trial. It will be interesting to see the effects over a longer term. I really have to thank my prior mentor during my internship for modelling true positive reinforcement. It was quite an experience to observe how effectively she managed the classroom without calling attention to any negative behavior.
At the end of the day, I would conclude all management experiments as successful. Three teachers asked for my name and number because the students responded well. This was a bonus since this is a school where I would love to be a part of the team – very positive, friendly, down to earth dynamics.
While waiting for my oldest daughter to be ready this morning, I browsed the edmodo communities. Luckily, I came across this website educatorstechnology.com. Wow! So many articles that I had to resign myself to samples. There’s simply too much, but certainly enough that anyone can find something useful. One article from Educational Technology and Mobile Learning is “The 33 Digital Skills Every 21st Century Teacher Should Have”. I think it’s kind of funny when the term 21st Century learning or teachers is used because it’s all basically 21st century. This article has a lot of resources listed with links that I’ll check more into at a later date. What I’ve seen so far is worth saving the information. Honestly, my focus over the summer is literacy, but I keep finding new technical information. I’m just going with the flow.
Posted by dachee
on May 13th,2013 Technology
I tried to embed Scribblar to my blog, but it is too large an image. It takes away any ability to scroll or move the page so I changed it to an image icon. This site kind of gives you the feel of a smart board. (Oh to have a smart board in my future classroom – fingers are crossed.) This is my room where I am learning about this website. One daughter has a project to create a math tutorial to upload to youtube. Remembering this site from earlier explorations, I decided to give a closer look. Who knows if my daughter will choose to use this or come up with a different idea, but it sure is fun to play. After browsing the various features, it seems that it has use when a promethean board is not available. With a subscription, 35 uploads are allowed, but since Power Point can easily be used, then I can only imagine if one wishes to draw on a slide during a presentation? I only have the free version. It’s an engaging way for partners to work together on math problems.
Posted by dachee
on May 12th,2013 Technology
In case the class where I volunteer chooses to use padlet, I’ve worked up an example using the criteria used by the students. Here’s my example:
Padlet “George Washington”
Edmodo | Home.
Here is my Edmodo page. Basically I’m trying out an edublog feature called Press This which allows me to create instant links from my bookmark bar to transport the reader to another location. Press Edmodo to see if it works.
Posted by dachee
on May 4th,2013 Technology
I’ve made a couple of glogs, but decided to edit my “About Mrs. Achee” because I will soon volunteer in a classroom to assist with a glogster project.
Here’s my example:
Posted by dachee
on May 3rd,2013 Technology
There’s simply too much I learned at the NSTA conference to state within 1 post, but I can give the highlights. From Betsy Rupp Fulwiler, I gained insight into training students to keep true scientific records, recording only what has been observed using concise terminology, then backing conclusions with supportive evidence. A very positive tone is used without lowering expectations. Standards are raised, increasing writing skills even as conventions are not emphasized. Students learn organization, scientific skills, science concepts, analytic skills, and communication skills. It was fascinating. Her book is Writing in Science in Action. There are ideas which can easily be implemented even if the entire program is not utilized. I have a friend in Connecticutt who immediately began using strategies from this program. She plans to keep me updated on the results – I’m looking forward to this. The conference itself was amazing. It’s interesting how quickly connections are made with shared enthusiasm. If I asked sincere questions about a teacher’s classroom, I could usually sit while words spilled from the other, so eager to share.
Okay, what else was learned? Using current events to spark interest in topics. Most of the ideas presented can be used in any subject: digital storytelling, news events, applying higher levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, using various technological applications/websites. I soaked it in. Because Texas State “teaches current best practices” (It’s kind of funny when certain phrases are heard repeatedly between classes), I was able to contribute to conversations. Go Bobcats!
It was worth the extra hours at home preparing, then catching up with daily responsibilities. Having a room to myself at night in a hotel – Bonus!
San Antonio or Bust
Since this conference will not occur until April, I shouldn’t write anything yet. However, I can’t help myself. My family hears more than they desire about education, FB friends really aren’t interested in future conferences, and my husband is traveling. Therefore, I will enter here with the most enthusiasm sans all cap letters or exclamation points that I have registered, not just for the NSTA National Conference being held in San Antonio, BUT (okay a few caps) for a Professional Development Institute. This means I leave a day early, as projects are looming for the semester, for an extra day to participate in a professional series “The Literacy and Inquiry Connection: Instruction that Scaffolds and and Enhances Scientific Thinking and Understanding.” The title alone makes me feel like a child at eye level with the pumpkin pie for Christmas dinner, a trace of cinnamon – traipsing, teasing; yet it’s only 8 in the morning. I am even more excited about this conference than I was the fall math conference (NCTM regional Dallas). I’ve had April’s conference bookmarked for an entire year. Now one can understand why I had to write about an experience I’ve not yet fulfilled. Math conference, Kagan workshop, Science and Literacy – now I require a full literacy workshop to round out my early training. I’ve attended a couple of TAIR conferences, with another arriving in February, but I’m wishing for the Stephanie Harvey of workshops. She holds a summer session every year in Colorado. It’s in my future. I did attend Harvey Daniel’s workshop at the TAIR conference at Baylor University. He’s pretty amazing as well – I have his collaborative book with Stephanie Harvey. It’s not been used so that really doesn’t say anything. Since we went to Disney for Christmas, we won’t travel for Spring Break. I’ll use this time to work ahead of schedule (hopefully) in order to not lose sanity from work hours lost due to this conference. Science, Literacy, Teacher Lingo, and a hotel room to myself (this factor is equivalent to all others as a mom of four) = Visions of sugarplums dance in my head.
Short Term Goals
As I prepare for interning this semester, I have a few ideas I’d like to try from my recent Kagan workshop. Rally Coach is a guided practice structure to use where students monitor one another, providing support and reinforcement. If student A makes a mistake, then student B gives a couple of specific tips before teaching the concept. I would like to try this for math and reading for fluency. Each student takes turns with active participation, while the other student coaches as needed. In preparation for a lesson, I need to remember to consider what approach is needed to explain how to provide specific tips without giving the answer. This appears to be the trickiest aspect of this structure.
The other structure I would like to try is “All Write Round Robin.” Everyone writes all ideas/lists presented as students take turns around the table sharing thoughts. The appeal here is that there is movement aligned with active listening. Rather than passively sitting while waiting for a turn, students still have a job to perform requiring increased engagement. I like the individual accountability here as well; there’s concrete evidence that each student has received all information.
Lastly, I wish to implement gambits. This is the social protocol built into the structures: greetings, words of thanks/praise/acknowledgement, and polite comments of parting. This was a huge “Aha” moment for me – the concept of intentionally incorporating social skills within a lesson beyond community building. It is such a simple idea which makes it easily overlooked. Given today’s social media, the importance of teaching verbal communication skills is increasingly important. I have daughters who have sat next to a friend in the same room as they text one another, or worse, ignore one another while playing on individual gadgets.
This was an amazing experience. Instructors, Sarah and Carol, were simply excellent. Sarah sat down to show me resources within the book and online which may prove useful for college research/papers. I definitely plan to attend further sessions. The overall methodology can be used regardless of grade level or content. The idea of Kagan structures is to use a cooperative format with the intention to maximize principles of “PIES”: positive interdependence, individual accountability, equal participation, and simultaneous interaction (as defined by Kagan). Several of my professors have used these structures which led to my initial interest. The Kagan leadership was faultless. Check out kaganonline.com. To date, I have attended Days 1 and 2. My hope is to find a nearby workshop for Days 3 and 4 before I student teach in August.
The semester is at an end – what did I learn? Way too much to include in this post, but I have some discoveries worth mentioning. One is flannelboard discoveries, not what you would necessarily expect in an elementary room anymore, right? However, I have a huge interest in non-fiction and poetry. Imagine the gain in content understanding when retelling a non-fiction trade book depiction of content which coordinates with current topics. Now consider, fluency, engagement, and comprehension as a pair of students use a flannelboard to practice a two-voice poem. Do I have your interest now? The semester was full enough that I only had time to complete one story (non-fiction on pumpkins in poetic prose), but I will use the holiday to add to my collection.
Sumdog and Dogonews
I found two new websites which I can incorporate into my future classroom. One is www.sumdog.com. This one uses personal avatars, allowing coins earned to be used to purchase accessories for this avatar as correct answers are given when playing a plethora of game choices. The instructions are a little ambiguous, with not much time for a student to process the information, but the games may be learned through trial and error which I find is often the case for today’s games anyway. It’s a highly engaging website. It would be nice if teachers had a little more control over student choice within appropriate perimeters. I’m all for student choice.
The other website I’ve discovered through edublogs. It’s now one of my widgets on the right sidebar, www.dogonews.com. This site has previewed articles and videos for student viewing. Some articles are linked to maps. There is also an area for book reviews by children. I’ve not even realized the full potential of this website yet, but know it’s worthy. Articles have some words highlighted, linking to a glossary to aid vocabulary.
Posted by dachee
on December 9th,2012 Reflections