Last week’s edition of The Tuesday 12 provided 12 terrifyingly terrific Halloween poems! This week, I will be providing you with some excellent YouTube clips that will bring these poems alive in your class! Prepare to be spooked!
In one of our previous posts, we discussed Bitstrips – one of many great programs that you can engage in online with your students. This site allows you and your students to create fun, personalized characters which you can then further create a comic strip for. I was just recently updated that Bitstrips now has some cool, fun and interesting activities for halloween that you may definitely be able to introduce to and engage in with your students. Anywhere from creating a scene from your favorite halloween movie or story, to making greeting cards, sharing safety rules and fun ‘trick or treat’ stories – you can find it all on Bitstrips! Yet another fun thing to do with your students during this years Halloween! While you are there, I am sure you will find many other great uses for this program, especially once you see just how much your students enjoy it!
So you have created meaningful and thought provoking homework for your students. You have incorporated a diverse range of final products that can be submitted. You have clearly established timelines, consistently reminded your students of the deadline coming up and given them time to work on the assigned task in class. So what do you do when a student does not complete the assignment and doesn’t have anything to show for it? Some strategies that I have come across are likely to help not immediately but in the long run.
1) When students are handing in assignments, ensure that you have collected from everyone. If a student does not hand anything in, then have them write their name on a piece of paper and write out the reason for the work not being completed. This accomplishes at least 3 goals. One you are giving the chance for your student to possibly let you in on why he/she has not completed the work. Secondly, you have a reason and can communicate with parents what their child has stated as their reason for not completing. When this occurs, parents continue to enforce the importance of completing homework at home. Granted this may last for only that assignment, but the more this occurs the more students feel that the expectation of homework completion is important. Further to this, your communication with parents will be continuous and they will be always up to date with the situation with their child. Eventually, this student will get the idea and attempt to avoid the telephone calls home by attempting to complete the homework.
2) Another strategy that I have found useful is to not allow students to get away with it. I know it sounds weird, but I have let things go at times. I soon realized that I wasn’t helping my students by giving them a pass on the assignment. You have assigned homework. You found it important initially, and you should continue to stress the importance of it. Allowing it to slide tells students you really didn’t care about it (this will ultimately affect students who complete their work as well). An organizational strategy to help you manage who still needs to complete their work is to have class lists condensed on sheets where you can color code with highlighters. So, blue highlighted names are incomplete or no submission. I usually keep this sheet as a front cover page to the stack of assignments collected. This is a simple and easy task if you have numbers assigned to students. Once you put the numbers in order you can quickly identify the missing number(s) (and student) who has not submitted. I find this helpful, because I ask student helpers to collect and put papers in order.
3) As students go from class to class, it is vitally important that your team is aware of the incomplete homework situation. They are your team and also want to help your students. With my teaching partners, division partners, we have prepared lists with assignment headings and students names and posted them in each of our classrooms. This shows how we are all working together and consistently gives students a visual for what they have yet to complete.
4) If warranted, then I will allow students to stay in for lunch, to give the student time to work on the assignment. I do this for many reasons, such as a student having a home life situation that poses a great difficulty for him/her to accomplish the assignment or to overcome access issues such as not having Internet access.
I’m sure that there are many different approaches to dealing with incomplete homework that you have used. Let us know, put in your comments with your best strategy that you have used.
Assessment as learning has to do with metacognition, which is simply “thinking about thinking.” During assessment as learning, students would think about their own knowledge, learning, and thinking in order to gain a better understanding of how well they have attained concepts and they are now actively involved in their learning. According to eduGAINS.ca, “assessment as learning occurs when students are actively engaged in the assessment process; that is, they monitor their own learning, use assessment feedback from teacher, self, and peers to determine next steps, and set individual leaning goals.”
An important step in assessment as learning is the student’s understanding of the lesson and what they should be able to accomplish by the end of the lesson. This is referred to as the learning goal. Each lesson (or group of lessons) should have a learning goal that is written in student-friendly language. For each learning goal, there should be a list explaining what meeting the learning goal looks like. These are referred to as the success criteria and they too should be written in student friendly language. I prefer to use personal pronouns in the learning goals and success criteria to make them more personalized for my students. For example, the learning goal is usually written as “We are learning to…”, while the success criteria is then stated as “We can…”.
In math, we have developed a chart that is placed as the front page of each unit. The same chart can be used for each chapter of math and this is where we record the learning goal for each period of instruction and the corresponding success criteria.
I usually provide the learning goal in student-friendly language to my students at the beginning of the lesson. After the lesson, we review what we have learned by developing the success criteria together. I find that this is a great way to wrap up the lesson and summarize the key concepts. The only drawback is that this does take quite a bit of time. The first few times I did this with my class, it took almost 30 minutes and it really cut into the math work period. I really started to doubt whether this was a good idea, but with practice, my students became more efficient at reviewing the key concepts and recording them as success criteria. I also record the learning goal and success criteria as an anchor chart for easy review.
After students complete their homework and assignments for each particular learning goal, they then reflect on how well they understood the concept, how well they did on the homework/assessments, and they consider their next steps. When students have these sheets on their desks, it is very easy to circulate through the room and determine how well students understood the lesson based on their choice of happy/sad face. If many students choose the sad face, then I know that I need to review this concept further with my class (which then becomes assessment for learning for the teacher).
By clicking on the image above, you’ll be brought to the pdf so that you can use this chart with your own students. It works very well and it is a great way for students to be actively engaged in their learning.
We all have the word lists that we want our students to learn. We write them out, have our students copy them and then we have them repeat this process. They are to continuously repeat this until Friday and then write the spelling test! Yes we have some activities, use the word in a sentence, write them out 5 times, but really what are the students learning?
I can’t help but feel for students when I see this process in the classroom. Spelling is vitally important but these types of activities put students to sleep and I do not blame them, these activities are boring. So how do we combat this, and yet expand our students’ vocabulary!
First thing is first! In order for students to be able to identify words, you must ensure that your words are up on the wall not just for the week but permanently. This ensures students will be able to refer to them continuously and utilize them within their work. In previous posts we have made creating word walls easier than ever! For your convenience, check out our Word Wall Fun Packs!
Once you have your lists, then what can we do differently?
Here are some ideas!
Make it a game! There are many games that can be done here is one example: Have students stand in a circle, starting with one student call out the word and each student takes turns stating the letter that comes next. The task is to quickly spell each word. One a mistake is made have student sit out! Use a stop-watch and time them, challenging students to get the best time possible and no one out!
Act it out! Have students dramatize letters. For example, when the letter “O” is to be said the student should sound like an owl. The letter “s” students can pretend to be snakes. This allows students to be creative and make their own connections to the new vocabulary.
Words of the Week: I have done this with numbers and I can see it working with words as well. In order for students to understand the words in context they need to recognize when they hear it. Whenever they hear the word, they can scream the word out loud. I know (just like PeeWee’s Playhouse) and it will get crazy. I have seen variations to this. You can easily purchase mini noisemakers where students can use whenever someone uses the word in class. This keeps them attentive to ensure they can use their noisemakers and eventually will strive to use the words in their discussions deepening their retention.
Texting: How about having students create fake text messages to one another using at least 5 vocabulary words? They could take different perspectives, such as a parent to a child or a doctor to a patient. Ensure that you have the criteria that words cannot be shortened or short coded as they are done through texting! Allow them to get creative and it will be a fun activity to practice using the words in context!
Let’s hear your ideas! Hopefully we can compile a list of useful and effective strategies!
This weeks ‘Words to Live by Wednesdays’ is just a fun poster to put up in your classroom as you decorate for Halloween. There are so many neat and interesting things happening over the next few days – between dance-a-thons, fun activities, worksheets, projects, arts and crafts, etc….it’s definitely going to be busy! Your students are probably all worked up and excited, counting down until October 31st finally arrives! Why not enjoy this fun time with them…be a part of it! Start with fun decorations! Print this poster….have your students create one…and you too, can create one! Check out tagxedo.com!
Click, print and have fun!
Don’t forget to check back for next weeks ‘Words to Live by Wednesdays!’