Saturday, October 13, 2012

Fail Fast and Reflect

My kids are failing, which in turn means that I am failing.  This post is going to try to help me sort out what isn't working, what is working and how do I fix it!

What is working:

  • ISNs- My students have been 100% prepared with their notebooks everyday, which might not sound so impressive, but in my experience this is huge. Not only do they bring them, but they are organized and they are taking them seriously.  I gave an open notebook test this week and the kids were very relieved to find that the notebooks actually helped them!  I think that alone let them see the value of taking accurate notes.  Step in the right direction, but I will address a problem that I am having later on in the Problems section!
  • My version of flipclass- This somewhat goes hand in hand with the ISNs.  They are copying the notes from the videos into the ISN's.  Which is probably better than if they were trying to take the notes down in class.  
  • Edmodo- Kids love it!  I even have other teachers using it now.  They are communicating with me more and asking for help.

Problems or what isn't working:

  • Groups/tables-Especially in 7th grade.  They could not stop getting off topic and just chatted up a storm.  The past week I have put them back in rows, actually I have them come in and sit in their groups with a 1 team leader at each group who checks that they copied their notes.  Once that is done, they turn their desks around to form the rows. Then I do a short mini lesson while they are quiet, using popsicle sticks to draw names to answer questions then they do their work independently/ silently until I tell them to pack up and turn the desks back to groups.  VERY teacher centered and I HATE IT!  But what do I do?  They are not taking responsibility for their learning and I don't know what to do!
  • Student centered learning- In my mind, I thought they would watch the videos which only consists of the big idea and vocabulary.  Then come to class ready to get to work and learn together how to "do" the math.  Not even close.  Its not even like they are waiting/wanting me to spoon feed it to them, they could just care less!!!  I know that I have to engage them in the math, make it more personal, etc, but I don't know how to do this everyday.  This is how I feel:  I've spent the past four years learning how to teach, and now everything I've learned is totally wrong and I have to relearn it all over again. 
  • Materials-  I've complained about this before but my textbooks and resources SUCK.  They were totally expensive and the principal is not letting me get new stuff.  Luckily since I work at a charter school, I don't have to use them, but it just seems like a huge waste.  Plus a ton of work curating my own stuff. 
  • I think I am on the right track with training the 7th graders by putting them in rows. They are learning to work quietly and stay on task.  My hope is that after a few weeks we can start getting back into groups and working at the same level-on task and quiet talk.  I am going to start this with 8th grade next week.
  • I am going to implement a little competition between the groups and classes.  I am still working on it but it will be based mostly on academic achievement but a little on behavior.  I am hoping this will start to motivate them to learn.
  • I need to figure out how to move my lessons back to student centered.  I loved the jigsaw activity I did two weeks ago and I want to do this with 8th grade, but I go back to my group problem.  I may try this with 8th before putting them in rows.  

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