Posts Tagged ‘students’

Countdowns Lead to Explosions…

The school I work for will be out of session in 8 days. The kids are counting down, the teachers are counting down, there even is a countdown on the sign in sheet in the main office (it makes me smile each morning). Yet you ask, is there a countdown in my room? Do I speak in countdown numbers to my students? No. In the world of my classroom, I pretend school is the song that never ends, it goes on and on my friends.

Why?

Explosions. That’s why. Everything I know about life tells me that countdowns lead to explosions. A bomb being detonated. Fireworks at New Year’s Eve. Hysterics on American Idol.

Acme is far and away superior.

Acme is far and away superior.

That’s not cool when translated into the classroom. I imagine brain explosions. Manage your students’ behavior and motivation very firmly in the final days of school. Think about the answers people give when describing what they would do if the world ended tomorrow. These answers are decidedly split into two factions- family time/praying and last minute pleasure seeking/general debauchery. Kids can sometimes look at the last couple days of school as the end of a large element of their lives. “I can’t get detention on the last day of school, so I can do whatev!” or “Homework doesn’t really matter now, school is out in two weeks!”

Whether you are teaching 7th graders (ahem!) or seniors about to graduate, try to look at those last days not as a futile end of days but as days in the school calendar just as important as a random Thursday in October. That being said, school is almost out for summer! Enjoy counting down those final days with a gleeful giddiness (in private)!

Totally unrelated awesome picture via Reddit.

Acronyms for Learning

Acronyms might seem cheesy at upper levels…but they do work at locking away information in your memory. Just take a look at this:

PlanetsBlasphemy! I clearly remember my very educated mother jut served us NINE PIZZAS. Yes this may have been back in 2nd grade, but see? I’m proving my point!

Even if acronyms don’t receive the constant spotlight they deserve in the classroom from you, at least make sure to post them prominently on your walls. Students will be able to refer to the acronyms as they work and hopefully allow some of that stellar knowledge to seep in.

Teaching Tip: Want to ensure that students remember the material? As an activity, let them create their own acronyms and mnemonic devices for what they have learned. I promise you they will remember it much more easily after taking an active role in creating a way to store it in their brain.

Here are just a few acronym examples, focused on English, since that is what I teach.

Conjunction Words-

  • For
  • And
  • Nor
  • But
  • Or
  • Yet
  • So

Essay Introduction Information-

  • Author
  • Title
  • Type of selection
  • Time Period

Essay Prompt Reminder-

  • Answer the
  • Question
  • Asked

Writing Checklist-

  • Capitalization
  • Usage (grammar)
  • Punctuation
  • Spelling

Poetry Analysis-

  • Title’s meaning
  • Paraphrase
  • Connotation
  • Attitude
  • Shifts
  • Title- reevaluate meaning
  • Theme

If you have any more acronyms worthy to add to this list, please mention them!

No Opt Out

No Opt Out is a technique focused on making sure any student who is unable to answer a question or does not attempt to answer a question still ends up participating.

Visualize your classroom. Things are going reasonably well. Then you ask Hannah what a noun is. She looks at you confused. Her expression seems to convey “Who me?” She looks away passively and says, “I dunno.” You probably waffle between two actions here- force the question again, give it a try! Or you move on to another student and ask the same question again. This is a key moment– students will realize that saying “I dunno.” is the get out of jail free card for classroom discussion. The teacher cannot make you participate. No teacher likes to be Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and that is where No Opt Out comes into play.

Ben Stein

bored student

In a No Opt Out Situation…

Teacher- Hannah, what is a noun?

Hannah- I dunno.

Teacher- (turning to another student) Roger, what is a noun?

Roger- a noun is a person, place, thing, or idea.

Teacher- Right. Hannah, what is a noun?

Hannah- a noun is a person, place, thing, or idea.

Notice that the question comes back to Hannah in the end. This is good for students who don’t know the answer, but are trying, perhaps just giving the wrong answer. The teacher is able to get the student to participate, but without the guesswork of, “Is she being defiant? Does she really not know? Am I embarrassing her if I press the question?”

Let’s talk worst case scenarios. Say Roger is no help. He doesn’t answer your question either. Don’t waste a second. Ask the class for a classroom chorale answer or answer it yourself. Then turn back to Hannah or Roger, ask them again. You have just given them the answer so there is very little gray room to sit silently.

As you can see with my fictional models, Hannah and Roger, No Opt Out is simple and empowering. The student ultimately participates, the class learns that no one is off the hook, and the end result always is a student answering a question correctly (which can be a confidence booster!).

Participation

No Opt Out is a technique which can be found in Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion. For more formats of this technique, read his book! He is the man with the plan, I am simply a follower.

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