Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Do your students understand? Using White Boards to find out.

As a kid in school, did you ever want to write on the board? I know that I did, but realistically it was not possible for all kids to go the board and many times only the kids who really knew it or the ones who might get off task would be called to the board.

Why not let them do this at their seats. This is nothing new. Teachers have been using white boards to get the kids engaged and at the same time providing the teacher feedback about their understanding of the subject for many years. Have you tried it? It is amazing how something as simple as a dry erase marker and a mini-white board can make a kid want to work problems, draw a picture, write a sentence using the correct verb usage, complete the chemical equation, oh so many different uses.

What is really great is that you don't have to spend a lot of money. Oh, yes...there are many companies who have white board packages that have a nice price tag, but it is not necessary to go that route. A sheet of tile/shower board can be found in your local home improvement warehouse. These 4' X 8' sheets cost between $11.50 and $14.50. This large of a sheet can be cut into a class set of small white boards. Some of these home improvement stores will actually cut them for you. If not, they are easily cut with a circular saw.

You also don't have to buy the white board cleaner or the sponges for erasing. You can use glass cleaner and parts of an old t-shirt.

Here are a couple of links to some really cool teacher blogs where they give you ideas about using whiteboards. Remember that I post on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/smiletto. Look at my assessment strategies board. This is where I have posted other ideas about using whiteboards for classroom assessment. Have fun!



Thursday, November 14, 2013

Look at what is new...a podcast!

We are now producing a podcast at HGRESA. It is called Teaching Learning Leading K-12. The goal is to eventually publish weekly except for major school holidays. I will be interviewing people who have information that is useful to all K-12 educators. Most of these interviews will be no longer than 25 minutes which hopefully means that you could download an episode and listen to us as you exercise or drive to or from work. Notice that under the the title header on this blog there is a home, about, and now a podcast page. The newest podcast will be placed on the front page of the blog in the right hand column. All podcasts with liner notes will be placed on the podcast page. I hope that you will subscribe and tell others about our production. Remember that it is called Teaching Learning Leading K12. It is hosted at podbean.com and soon will be located on I-Tunes. A special thanks to David Rogers our Technical Producer (who also puts up with me and my ideas) who has made an idea a reality! Also thanks to Dana Sheffield and Rick Mitchell for voicing our intro and outro. Finally, I need to say thank you to Ben Sheffield who created the song Yeah, Yeah for us. You can find more of his music at www.reverbnation.com/dramasceneband
Thanks for listening.

Monday, November 11, 2013

A list of 10 assessments to get feedback from your students about their level of understanding

Formative assessments are all about the teacher developing ways to get information about the level of understanding of her students. This instructional strategy can be made more complicated than it really is. The concept is simple. Find out what they, the students, know and adjust instruction to address their needs. Wow...not too difficult. The trick is developing ways that don't need to be graded. Many of these strategies require very little class time but deliver an amazing amount of information about the student's progress or lack of progress. Check out the link below. It takes you to a list and description of 10 simple assessment strategies. Have fun creating your own or using these.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Stop Light Method: A Formative Assessment Strategy

Formative Assessments come in many shapes and sizes. They are used to gather information about where the students are or are not. The teacher then uses this information to make adjustments to individual or whole class instruction to address the apparent needs of the kids. These assessment strategies typically are not graded because the teacher is trying to find out what the kids do not know and use that information to make the class more focused. Take a look at the video below. The teacher is using a type of formative assessment where the kids tell her whether they are getting the class activity or not. She calls it her end of class stop light method. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Making Math Real with the Dallas Cowboys

Creating engaging lessons in the classroom is an issue. Trying to produce activity based instruction that lends itself to real world scenarios has always been a challenge. Especially, when kids are quick to try and trip up their teachers by asking, " Now really, when am I ever going to use this?!" Every content area lends itself to real world applications. As a former history teacher, kids were consistently wanting to know what the information had to do with their lives. Now, this is one of the worst things you can say to a history teacher...an hour later you will have wished you had only thought the question. After all, the reason we make the same mistakes throughout history is because we don't know our past. But I digress and soon an hour will pass and you will have rolled your eyes many times...so....

Over the years, I have run into some incredible lessons that connected the abstract world to the real. One of my favorites was an activity where the teacher created a scenario of a parking lot that was located on a piece of property in the middle of a city. The land was irregularly shaped. The owner was trying to figure out how best to size and stripe the parking spaces so as to get the most use from his land, thus increasing profit. The students were asked to create the word problem and generate the math that would help the land owner. Cool! Real world application of math.

Check out the link below to find an article about the Coach of the NFL Dallas Cowboys trying to solve their team performance problems by getting the team to see the field of play through a math lens. Wow! (As a note, I'm an Atlanta Falcon fan, so I'm hoping that it doesn't work.) Talk about making math real! (Thanks, Angie for sharing this link and providing the inspiration for the post.)