On any given school day you will see this in my class:
Every Kid Speaks Every Day
I got this idea from a friend who desired open communication and participation from all students. On the first day of school, each student wrote his or her name on a notecard and a personal goal and an academic goal on the back. I use these cards each day to call on students making sure I work my way through the stack daily. This has made students much more willing to volunteer for discussion and put everyone on an equal playing field in the class. An added bonus – I am reminded of the goals they are trying to achieve on a daily basis.
I love all of the things technology offers for today’s students. In addition to the obvious, my students have used technology to have Twitter chats with other AP students across the country on shared curriculum (#Frankenchat) and last week we Skyped with Hillary Jordan the author of Mudbound which was our summer reading (pics below). Google docs has revolutionized the way we peer edit and collaborate on projects. However, at the end of the day, technology does not replace good, solid teaching; it’s simply a tool.
I spend a lot of time building community because when students feel the support of a community, they will learn and grow. Community building may take a few minutes away from my academic time daily, but the time is well worth the payback. We celebrate birthdays, honors and awards, and college acceptances in my room. We set goals and celebrate when the goals are accomplished. We eat a lot together because there’s something about sharing food that builds community. Relationships matter!
Feedback not Grades
I believe that a grade is just a number, but feedback is invaluable. Because of this, I build in time to have individual reading and writing conferences with my students. Essays receive a Glow and Grow comment, but the students confer with me for more of my thoughts. I need to hear from them what their thought process is when approaching writing to help guide them. Students are always allowed and encouraged to revise essays for a higher grade after conferring with me. This is where the real learning takes place.
No Magic Pill
For as many creative activities we do in class, at the end of the day my students need to read and write to become better readers and writers. Practice, practice, practice. So on any given day you can come to my class and find my students doing this . . . .
I love the next generation!
I don’t do this for the money even though I have no complaints about my pay. I don’t do this for the summer vacations which for the record I love. I don’t do this for the standardized testing and lesson plan writing. I teach kids not content, and this is my calling. I do this because I believe in the next generation and love the opportunity to invest in them on a daily basis. After all, who else gets to experience this on a daily basis???