Thursday, January 31, 2013

Time and patients!!

This part of the reading made me want to get away from the worksheet-worksheet-test pattern of teaching.  It also really changed my way of viewing homework.  Now it is just a matter of finding the time and patients to change.   

I really enjoyed the chapter titled "Time Saving Strategies for Busy Teachers" because it seems like I spend an enormous amount of time grading papers.  I think I am going to try the free time idea where students who have finished their work get some free time while others catch up.  I don't want it to appear like a punishment because that will just lead to an allotted amount of pouting time.  I need to just continuously restate the fact that "Your classmates have already given up their time to do this assignment." 

I can't ever see myself using the "Menu System" exactly as it was described in this book.  However, it really got me to thinking about some other ways to give a grade.

1.  Portfolios-  For example, students could find and cut out interesting articles about a certain topic.  They could even write questions about the information in the article.  It would be like they are making their own "Scholastic News" or "Time for Kids".  I think this would be really interesting to do during a unit on endangered animals. 

2. Make a game show-  Students can make their won review game, or they can contribute 5 questions to a game that is being made as a class. 

3.  Give the answers get the questions-  Give students answers and have them write appropriate questions to match.  For example, you would give the students a statement such as "Succession that happens after a natural disaster," and they would need to generate the question "What is secondary succession?"  You could even do this in math.  Give the students a number such as 48, and have them brainstorm different math problems that would have 48 as an answer. 

4.  The teacher takes the test and the students grade it-  I have done this before in math, and the students love it.  I took a 10 point quiz on double digit multiplication and made 8 common errors.  My students graded my work, found my errors, and explain to me where I went wrong. 

5.  A word study packet-  You could have students keep a log of important words, their definition, synonyms and antonyms, why the word is important, what subject  the word belongs to, who might use this word, and when might the word be used. 

6.  Now I know-  A great review is having students make a "Now I know" list.  At the top of a piece of paper have the students write "I read this chapter and now I know..."  Then have them make a list of 10 things they learned.  When they share their list with the class everyone is reviewing.  I really like this activity because the students are doing all the work. 

My views on homework seem to be ever changing, and after reading page 106 they were altered yet again.  My eyes were opened by the part where it talks about a child being regarded as lazy because of their family dysfunctions.  When I think about my won children, I realize that they wouldn't sit down and do homework if I wasn't there to set the requirements and expectations.  So as teachers we need to quit fighting a loosing battle.  We need to make the most of the time we have them in school, and that means using the best teaching practices possible.  Even if that requires large amounts of time and patients!! 

I hope this blog is OK.  My husband usually proofreads my work, but he is not around tonight!! 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Elements of Grading

I would have to say this book has been very eye opening.  Before reading it, I thought my feedback was effective and my grades were accurate.  I have now come to understand that my feedback could be improved, and my grades could be more accurate. 

 After reading this assignment I have decided that my idea of feedback is not as specific or timely as it could be.  My current feedback includes me grading papers, noticing the problems that many got wrong, and discussing those problems the following day.  Instead of  addressing the class as a whole group, I should try to give each student individual feedback (time is a limiting factor here).  To make my feedback more timely I am going to have my students show me the first 5 problems on their assignment.  If they got them correct they will be allowed to move onto the rest of their assignment.  Any mistakes they make can be immediately addressed. 
I have also decided that my grades are not a reflection of an end result.  Rather, they are a reflection of a learning journey, and if this journey starts out in a rocky place the end result is skewed.    
To make my grades more accurate, I am not going to grade my student's first attempt at a concept.  I am going to make their first assignment smaller so it can be graded quickly and feedback can be more timely.  Because change can be overwhelming, I plan to start with these changes in math and add other curriculum as the year goes on.    

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rethinking Homework ch. 1-2

I am writing this blog as a teacher and as a parent.  I have a difficult time separating the two.  I think these two views complement each other and in some ways balance each other out.

My greatest frustration as a teacher is that there is never enough time to get everything done.  Because of this reality, I think homework is necessary.  Assignments that are not completed during class simply have to become homework.   I think that students at my grade level (5th grade) should have 50 minutes of homework three to four nights a week. We all have to put work before fun.   I don't see anything wrong with asking our students to do the same.  However, because time is so precious, I think all assignments should have a purpose.  I don't believe in busywork, and I don't believe that a student's free time should be spent doing it.

As a parent, I like to see some homework.  I think chores, homework, and accountability help a child become responsible.  I appreciate any teacher who expects these things from my children.  Yet, I don't want my children doing homework all night.  Like everything else in life, there needs to be a reasonable balance.