Can you Escape?

How are you helping your students review for final exams?  I guarantee that nothing you are doing is as cool as what Keith Shanks is doing.  His students were welcomed into Q-24 on Wednesday morning, but Q-24 was not the usual classroom.  It had transformed into an escape room.

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You may have heard of the latest escape room craze.  We even have one in the SCV (check out Arcane Escape Rooms in Newhall if you want to experience the fun for yourself!).   Wikipedia defines an escape room as a “physical adventure game in which players solve a series of puzzles using clues, hints and strategy to complete the objectives at hand. Players are given a set time limit to unveil the secret plot which is hidden within the rooms.”  Keith’s secret plot?  Final exam geometry review!

Here is how Keith set up his escape room:

1. The students were divided into two teams, one on each side of the room.  Each team had a different set of clues to solve and different hiding places for their clues, but were in competition with one another based on time.

2.  Students collaborated and worked through the math problems.  They then used their answers as “clues” to find where the next set of math problems was hidden.  For example, one set of clues included letters and numbers that corresponded to a textbook on the shelf in the class.  In the textbook the students found a key to a box.  Inside the box was their next set of problems to work through together.

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3.  Keith included 6 clue sheets, such as the one below:

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4.  The group that completed all clues correctly and showed their math to Keith received extra credit on their final exams!

As you can see, the students loved this activity.  Each and every students was engaged and actively solving the clues (all while reviewing for the final exam!).  Teachers will love this activity because it allows for all those 21st century learning skills: collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity!  Plus, it has the potential to address so many standards.  For example, Keith hit Math Practice 1:  Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them and Math Practice 6: Attend to precision

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I am already thinking of ways to use the escape room in my English classes next year.   I have seen escape rooms that look like prisons, dungeons, haunted mansions, mummy’s tombs, and so much more!  Imagine a catacomb escape room for Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Cask for Amontillado,” a mummy’s tomb in a world history class, a Watergate theme in a U.S. history course, or a mad scientist lab in a chem class…the possibilities are endless! Check out these educational escape room themes and ideas on Pinterest!

How will you use this activity in your own classroom?

 

Be My Guest…Blogger!

When you think of the word “assessment” what comes to mind?  I am sure many of us were assessed using multiple choice/scantron tests.  I have, in fact, written many of these tests throughout the years.  As easy as they are to grade, are they really assessing students in an effective way?  I think it comes down to what we value as educators.  Do I value memorization or application of skill?  I can tell you that I certainly value application of skill more than I do memorization.  Students can Google ANYTHING.  But the real question for our students is what can they DO with the information they Google? Can they synthesize information to create new perspectives, arguments, and products? Can they craft new ideas?  How can they use what they know to influence the thinking of others? Certainly I still am required to give my AP students the M/C practice on scantrons.  However, I can prepare them through assignments like blogging and they see it as “fun” versus AP exam prep.  You see, when they blog they become writers making choices for their purposes and audiences.  When they take the M/C AP Lang exam they are analyzing the choices writers make for their purposes and audiences.  As a result, they analyze nonfiction more effectively when they are writers of nonfiction themselves.  Conclusion?  Blog assignments are an alternative (and preferred!) means of assessment that require students to use technology.   How can you use a blogging platform in your classroom?

Blogging Platforms:

I researched and found that Edublogs.org offered better control of student and class management that other platforms so I paid the $39.99 for the year. Blogger through Google and WordPress are two other options.  I admitted to the students that although I keep a professional blog using wordpress.com, I had never used Edublogs. We jumped right in together to figure it all out.  I think I have discussed in previous posts that it doesn’t matter if I don’t know how to masterfully use a piece of technology, the students are always willing to help. This is exactly what happened in class.

I gave some basic instructions and then put the technology in their hands.  I have to admit that I didn’t keep up with the blogs as much as I should have in the fall.  By spring, however, I figured out that they needed weekly blog prompts and inspiration to keep them (and me!) accountable.  As a result, I wrote prompts each week based on the writing modes we studied and the mentor texts we read.  They were allowed to choose the theme and topics they wrote about (because I am all about choice and creativity!).  Here is why I love assessing students through their blogs:

  • Students commit, feel ownership over the process, and take risks in their writing.
  • They welcome this type of creative assessment while still
  • They demonstrate their understanding of how to apply the skills outlined in the anchor standards
  • They work toward master of Writing Standard 6:
    Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
  • They have an audience that spans far beyond the teacher.
  • They improve in the area of digital literacy
  • They write far more than I can possibly grade…and practice makes them better writers.

Here are some examples:   

http://flamingturtle.edublogs.org/

http://knnielsen.edublogs.org/

http://kfleet.edublogs.org/

http://sofiaari19.edublogs.org/

http://erickdoloress.edublogs.org/

Blogging has allowed my students to send their voices into the world.  This is why when Vanessa Perez (“Madame” to her students) invited me in to see her students blogging (in French!) I jumped at the chance!  

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I now turn over Hart Literacy to Madame Perez to impress us with her lesson and her fancy French…

Bonjour tout le monde!

I am in love with French: the musical tone, the poetic expressions, the mind-numbing idiosyncrasies, and the spell it casts upon the most mundane word, rendering it inspirational. My goal in the classroom, therefore, is to impart my love for the language upon my students, facilitating their personal journey towards language acquisition and the ability to effectively communicate. It is a challenging journey, but one wherein the enriching rewards last a lifetime. In order to help my French 3 students gain a deeper, more personal relationship with the language, I have them read the novel Jean de Florette by Marcel Pagnol. For most of my students, this is the first time they have ever read a story of this caliber in French. They always begin it with trepidation; unsure whether to believe that this could be a tale to which they will relate. At the end of the novel, however, they are emotionally invested, and find themselves asking important questions global citizens must consider, such as: For whom are we ultimately responsible?

The culminating activity for this unit involves students writing a blog from the perspective of a character from the novel. Each blog was required to have at least 15 posts (10 sentences each) from the character of their choice, and two comments per post from other characters. In addition, each blog had to include pages on the town in which the story takes place, historical information on the time period, and a bonus page wherein students had full control over the content (regional recipes are a popular choice). On the due date, students examine their classmates’ blogs, searching for interesting facts, and making peer assessments.

I find projects to be a requisite in my class, as they offer students an exciting method by which to express themselves, as well as to be assessed in their acquisition. The level of language fluency required to write a ten-sentence post from someone else’s perspective far surpasses that involved in choosing C on a scantron test. With language acquisition and effective communication in French as my goal for my students, I must continually challenge them with legitimate connection and realistic expression in the language. Through interesting projects like the Jean de Florette blog, I am able to foster a deep connection to literature, the desire to become responsible members of the global community, and the ability to successfully communicate in a language with which they, too, have hopefully grown to love.

Some candid, (and not-so-candid) shots from peer review day:

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Sample pages from the blogs:

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How would blogging work with your content area?  

In what ways can you design alternate means of assessment for your students?  

Contact me for ideas!  

Book Review: Cultivating Curiosity

I read a professional book titled Cultivating Curiosity by Wendy L. Ostroff that is worth sharing. Here I discuss the ways in which I have implemented some of her ideas and approaches into my teaching practice.

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But first, below is a bit about the book from the ASCD website:

Curiosity comes from within—we just have to know how to unleash it.

We learn by engaging and exploring, asking questions and testing out answers. Yet our classrooms are not always places where such curiosity is encouraged and supported.

Cultivating Curiosity in K–12 Classrooms describes how teachers can create a structured, student-centered environment that allows for openness and surprise, where inquiry guides authentic learning.

Award-winning educator Wendy L. Ostroff shows how to foster student curiosity through exploration, novelty, and play; questioning and critical thinking; and experimenting and problem solving.

With techniques to try, scaffolding advice, and relevant research from neuroscience and psychology, this book will help teachers harness the powerful drive in all learners—the drive to know, understand, and experience the world in a meaningful way.

You can read excerpts by clicking here.

I used to have a room next door to the late Pete Pew, Hart High social studies teacher extraordinaire.  He would often pop in to chat about students and educational topics. One topic we would return to time and time again was the idea of intrinsic motivation. He noted that he found the kids who were most intrinsically motivated performed better and wondered how we could encourage or create intrinsic motivation.  Ostroff has a chapter dedicated to this very concept titled, “Embrace Intrinsic Motivation.”  What I love is that she doesn’t simply throw up her hands and say that by high school students beliefs about who they are as learners cannot be changed (but I know I have felt this way at times and I have also heard other teachers say it is simply too late for them to change!). Instead Ostroff examines ways in which teachers can help students tap into their motivation and retain it.  She also cautions about what can harm intrinsic motivation (who would think praise can be harmful? It can!).

Here is what I tried…

“Sincere wonder and interest, plus a degree of freedom, is the recipe for keeping students intrinsically motivated.”
-Wendy L. Ostroff

My students have been creating a TED Talk as a final project for the past few years.  I used to provide a list of topic choices, but this year I tried a different approach.  As this is a year-long project, I began by tapping into their curiosities in the fall.  Ostroff details an exercise called “Everything is interesting” and I did something similar.  In their Writer’s Notebooks students created a list of potential topics for subjects they are highly familiar with and imagined ways in which they could present these to the class.  Then a few demonstrated the topics in interesting and thought-provoking ways.  Some were over the top and ridiculous, but they found that they enjoyed having the freedom of choice (in both topic and presentation).  They demonstrated their understanding of the material AND they were given permission to be creative in their demonstration.  Over the course of the year they identified a new topic to explore (sometimes switching ideas as their interests changed), researched (books, articles, other TED talks, movies, etc.), rhetorically analyzed sources, wrote a 4-6 page research paper with in-text citations, and are now preparing to bring the research to life for an audience of their peers.  This year more than any other I have seen the power that wonder and freedom can have on our students.  They had (structured) power over their own learning and this gave them the motivation they needed. They wholeheartedly have embraced the project and they spend time out of class deepening their understanding of a topic they care about.  And the best part?  They are using all the skills we learn in class and demonstrating mastery of the anchor standards.

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Students researching and writing in preparation for their TED Talks.  

If you are looking ways to infuse more inquiry in your classroom, please pick up a copy of Cultivating Curiosity…or borrow mine!  The “Curiosity Techniques to Try” embedded in every chapter and her introduction on how to cultivate curiosity have helped me to reflect as a teacher.  Now I am asking more questions and building in more opportunities that may lead to failure-on my part and the students- but I have found that these opportunities also lead to the best surprises.  My students have come to point of being much more autonomous with their learning, more intrinsically motivated, and (I know this is going to sound shocking) they are learning simply for the sake of learning.

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Starting with the (Wo)man in the Mirror

AP testing begins next week.  This time of year my mind is sent backwards as I reflect on my teaching.  Was I as effective as I could have been?  Are these students where I want them to be?  What would I go back and change if I could?  These are the questions I mull over as I review my notes throughout the year.  You see, I never do the same exact lessons one school year to the next.  I cannot imagine anything more boring or mind numbing than pulling out the same old lesson every year.  Creativity is what keeps me engaged with the art of teaching.  As Edward de Bono said, “Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”  Keeping my classroom current in terms of technology, content, approaches, and student interest is important to me.   And the first step to keeping current?  Like Micheal Jackson, I’m starting with the (wo)man in the mirror.  Self-reflection allows me to recognize where change needs to happen. Reflection is vital for teacher effectiveness, essential to initiate change, and allows for innovation.  Here are some ways I build reflection into my teaching life:

  1.  Take Notes!  I take notes as I teach about what worked and didn’t work.  I admit that I currently do not have one streamlined system for doing so.  Ideas come when they come and I just have to catch them in the moment and get them down as fast as possible.  For instance, I put post-it notes on texts I have used that will remind me of changes for the following year. These texts are filed into folders and categorized by type. I also add comments to my semester-long calendar on Google Docs so I can refer to them as I create new calendars. In addition, I maintain Google Docs with names like “Changes for Next Year” and even one that read “Brilliant Ideas.” Finally, I keep a notepad on my desk and jot thoughts and revisions down as they come to me.  I review these in the spring as I think ahead to the next year and I review them again right before the fall semester begins.  If I didn’t actually write these ideas down, they would be lost forever!
  2. Class Surveys… I know this seems a bit daunting.  Do you remember those end of the course surveys we had to fill out in college?  I am sure we all have had a few nutty professors and didn’t hold back about how much we loathed their classes. But I learn a great deal with end-of-the-year surveys and I find the feedback from my students to be valuable.  Yes, I have had a few students discuss their disdain, but I also have very honest students who discuss their challenges and their successes with the way the class was run.  These surveys force me to view the course from the student perspective and they allow me to see myself as the students see me. I have cringed as I read some of the comments, but more importantly, I have learned and grown. One year a student wrote that I didn’t give enough positive feedback on writing.  It hurt to read that, but when I looked back I realized it was true.  I spent a great deal of time on what they did wrong and did not reward or even acknowledge what they did well.  The following year I adjusted and now I am much more aware of the ways in which I give feedback, finding a balance between praise and suggestions for improvements. I have always done paper surveys, but this year I will be putting the survey on Google Classroom.  A sample from last year is below:Capture1Capture2
  3. PD- I know that to some professional development carries a negative connotation. However, I can honestly say that I gain something from every PD I attend because I set that as a goal for myself.  It is all a matter of perspective.  If I walk into a PD session with the attitude that it will be a waste of time, it will be. (Isn’t this also true of our students and the way they enter our own classrooms?) Developing as a professional should be a career goal for each and every one of us. This is why even in the summer I stay current. Attending the WSHUSD Teacher Summer Institute the last couple of years, for example, has taught me about different technologies to use in the classroom. (Sign up for TSI if you haven’t! It will be 3 half days, June 6-8).  I also continue to listen to podcasts, watch TED talks, and read the news to look for any connections I can make to my content area. I then save these for possible new lessons.  Even though I read a lot for pleasure over the summer, I also factor in a few professional books that spark new approaches for the coming year.  When I talk (or tweet!) with other educators or read their experiences, I find myself reflecting the most and then the magic happens…my mind begins to swirl with innovative ideas.  What do you do to stay current in your content area and with the skills (aka anchor standards!) our students need to succeed?

Reflection:  Means for Creativity and Innovation

We all know that change is inevitable—especially in education.  We will have new textbooks, new students, new technologies, new pacing guides, new courses, new state mandates, new colleagues, new classrooms, new content.  We can resist that change and make ourselves miserable, or we can become part of the change.  Reflection allows us to look in the mirror and to realize where we may be lacking.  Yes, this moment of self-reflection can be painful, but it can also be freeing.  It will make you a better teacher and it may even preserve your sanity.

“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”
-William Pollard

Consider: How can you use reflection as a tool to initiate change?

Building more reflection into the teaching practice is a topic that I will be exploring in a workshop for next year’s after school professional development.  I would love to work with you and do some one-on-one coaching in the area of reflection if you are interested! I would also love to hear the ways in which you reflect on an ongoing basis.  Email, call, or stop by any time so we can chat!

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Tweeting Your Way to a Better Classroom

Social media can be a great resource for teachers wishing to develop professionally.  I know…social media is only for mindless scrolling and indulgent voyeurism, right? Wrong! Social media platforms can also help spark new ideas and connect you to other educators.  Today I am showcasing Twitter.  I know it sounds like one more thing.  Do we have time for tweets when we have exams to grade and lessons to plan?  Do we really want to add another social media platform to those we already have for personal use? The answer is yes.  What I love about Twitter is that it is quick.  Considering tweets are limited to 140 characters, you can quickly gain information, share information, and then move about your day.  

Using Twitter to Inform Students and Parents

The most obvious use of Twitter would be to share information with your students.  You can post classroom reminders like Nick Gravel or showcase classroom highlights like Erin Bach:

You can share tips and other resources like Greg Borish and I have:

You can remind students about upcoming school events like this tweet from Diana DeLaMaza:

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Using Twitter for PD

You can also join Twitter chats with other professionals!  This is what I really want to talk about.  At first, I was nervous to join a Twitter chat.  What if I did it wrong?  What if I publicly made a fool of myself because I was unsure about how to use this unfamiliar platform?  The first time I tried it out I joined a chat and simply watched.  I didn’t tweet or even make myself known to the group.  This is how I learned…and boy did I learn! The first chat I joined is the #APLangChat.  AP Lang teachers join together for about an hour to discuss a topic.  One person is in charge of leading the group by asking questions.  The questions will be labeled as Q1, Q2, etc.  The hashtag #APLangChat is always used so that all of the tweets are together.  Clicking on the hashtag will keep you in the “thread” when you respond.  Participants respond with their answers and label them A1, A2, A3, etc. Again, the same hashtag is always used and will keep you in the “thread” with the other participants.  Of course, you can respond to what others have tweeted, share links, “like” what they are tweeting, and retweet as you go.   

Here is an example question and answers:

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So at some point I did it.  I just jumped in and introduced myself and began answering questions.  And people responded.  And I made new teacher friends!  We interacted and shared ideas and resources.  We encouraged one another.  Now I regularly join chats and I am so happy I do!

Twitter for Online Collaboration

This online networking led to collaboration with teachers from around the nation.  We follow one another and share ideas and lessons.  If I see one teacher has posted about a lesson, I direct message that teacher and ask for more information.  I email back and forth with teachers I meet on Twitter and we share and brainstorm as well.  These teachers even meet up at conferences…all because of Twitter!  In this tweet, Erin retweets a quote and a picture from a session at a conference she attended.  Retweeting workshop and key note speaker highlights is an activity many teachers participate in when they attend conferences. This particular tweet uses the CATE conference hashtag #CATE2017. 

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How to Begin

My advice is to get on Twitter and begin searching hashtags that are relevant to your content area and interests.  For AP teachers there are chats like #apushchat, #apchem, etc.  But you can also look for #sschat if you teach social studies and #mathchat if you teach math, for example.  There are general education hashtags like #edchat as well.  No matter what you teach, trust me, there is a hashtag for it.  Check out the TeachThought article for a comprehensive list education hashtags by category!  

I would also suggest following professionals relevant to your subject area.  For instance, I follow authors, journalists, newspapers, magazines and publishers since I teach English.  I also follow innovators like @ElonMusk and @BillGates.  For teacher in social studies, you can find out a great deal about the new framework and the shifts in the coming to your content area.  Science teachers can see demonstrations and labs in actions.  Take a look at some of the examples below and then consider: Who would you follow?

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Sharing Our Practice

Sarah Hagan (@mathequalslove), a blogger/math teacher at mathequalslove.blogspot.com, originally started the hashtag project #teach180. Teachers are able to widen their audience to other classroom observers by tweeting a picture and a 140 character tweet of their daily classroom experience.  Hagan shares her favorite #teach180 ideas from the week on her blog, which is also a fabulous resource for math teachers! Read more about #teach180 here or simply search the hashtag!

I would love for all the teachers at Hart to join Twitter and share our own daily practice at Hart High School. I would then share highlights on my own blog.  Let’s keep this in mind as a #goal for the 2017-2018 school year.  You have plenty of time to play with the platform and test it out until then.  Who is with me?  #TeachHart #AliveWithPride #GoHartOrGoHome #StayClassyHart

Happy tweeting!  Don’t forget to follow me at @hartaplang 🙂

Student Critics in Art 1B

Questions to Consider:

  • How can you use mentor text to help your students improve? (Remember ‘text’ can be articles, graphs, novels, pictures, artwork, formulas, charts…anything you can analyze!)
  • How can students critique as a method for self-reflection?   
  • How can all teachers support EL students as they receive the same rigorous instruction as their peers who speak English fluently?

Joe Brusca recently shared photos and a video of a morning in his classroom. Music played as students sank into their work, sketching still life drawings of basic shapes and forms.  I love moments like this when students are immersed in creativity.

Mentor text

I thought we could take another visit to his classroom to see how Joe uses model “text” (in this case “text” is artwork) and guided art critiques in order to help his students improve their craft.  Just as a football player watches tapes of previous games and critiques them with the goal of improving for the next game, artists can also learn from analyzing and critiquing the moves of other artists and their own work.  What I love best about Joe’s lesson is that the student becomes the critic and is, therefore, required to use Math Practice 6: Attend to Precision.  The students are asked to notice key details and the craft and structure in the work of others (yes, these are the same ideas presented in our reading standards!).  They also listen to critiques of their own work.  Throughout the process they reflect on ways to improve.  Using model or “mentor” text is the ideal way for students to grow and the best part is that this can be done in any content area (lucky you!). For example, English teachers use mentor text by asking students to analyze a professional piece of writing for author’s craft and then have them imitate the moves of the writer.  Or a science teacher may have students compare science writing to fiction writing and note the differences.  For a fun article on critiquing, read Roger Ebert’s Advice to Young Critics.

Shatter Values

For a snapshot of Joe Brusca’s use of mentor text and art critique, we can examine his shatter values projects. Joe offers this activity as a lesson on line and value (gray-scale shading) drawing. First, he provides the assignment and mentor text such as this one:

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Next, the students create their own art.  Once complete, these student projects are then displayed on bulletin boards in his classroom.

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During the critique day the students complete three art critique question forms.  They reserve any judgement about the artwork until they have completed the entire form and discussed with their peers.

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As they are walking around and evaluating the projects together, they consider criteria outlined in the rubric. This is the criteria they will use to self-assess.  A portion of the rubric is below:

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Joe has included Speaking and Listening 6  in this activity, and students are encouraged to use language appropriate to the task (words like “craftsmanship” and “value scales”). Continually referring to the rubric, they consider criteria such as contrast and balance. During the discussion they can be overheard honing in on even the smallest of details as they attend to precision. Joe’s goal is to help them develop motor and practical drawing skills through the analysis and critique of the artwork.

Language Objectives for ELs in Art

A language objective articulates the academic language functions and skills that ELs need to master to fully participate in a lesson and meet grade level content standards.

The EL 1 students in Joe’s class are in a language-rich environment and, therefore, gain language acquisition in the art class.  In an effort to help his EL 1 students with the unfamiliar language on the original critic form, Joe teaches key content-specific words like “value” and “composition,” plus any other words needed to help them with language acquisition. Joe makes sure to group ELs with other English-speaking students.  His EL students engage in the same activities as his English-speaking students. They write the critiques and self-reflections and discuss the artwork with their English-speaking peers in the class.   As Kristina Robinson writes, “If activities are structured to support student-to-student or group interaction, ELLs are required to use English to explain concepts and contribute to the work.”  The more exposure our EL population has to English, the more quickly we will see them acquiring language and improving in all domains.  You can click this link to learn more about supporting ELs in your classroom: 5 Things Teachers Can DO To Improve Learning for ELLs

Joe has integrated reading, writing, and listening and speaking all into one activity that will help his students self-reflect and grow as artists.  Additionally, he provides the same high-quality material to all his students and builds in support structures for his EL students.   Joe-Thank you for sharing your classroom and ideas with us!

So….

  • How can you use mentor text to help your students improve? (Remember text can be articles, graphs, novels, pictures, artwork, formulas, charts…anything you can analyze!)
  • How can students use critiques as a method for self-reflection?   
  • How can all teachers support EL students as they receive the same rigorous instruction as their peers who speak English fluently?

Need help supporting ELs in your classroom?  Want to learn more about mentor text? Please contact me any time!  You can also observe on “Mentor text Mondays” to see lessons in action in my own classroom.

~Sarah

Auto Shop 2017

Questions to Consider
How can we build in multiple ways for students to demonstrate their skills and understanding?   What technology exists that allow students to manipulate and interact with content from our subject matters and, thus, enhance learning?  

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I never took auto in high school, but I know from visiting James Lane that the class has changed significantly in the past twenty years.  Yes, students still learn about the inner workings of automobiles, how to maintain them, and ways to repair them. However, today’s auto shop is the ultimate differentiated classroom.  In fact, auto shop has driven right into the 21st century.  Take, for example, the day I visited James Lane’s 5th period which is Auto 2, 3, and 4 in one class.  The students were working on Electude.com, an e-learning software that guides them through multiple modules.  The software is adaptive and allows for self-directed learning.  In fact, the same model is used for training professional automotive technicians worldwide and is nationally accredited.  Auto as a course is a transportation pathway so these students are obtaining real career preparation.  James walked me through the online system, demonstrating both the student and teacher views.  

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The software begins with formative assessments to determine the skill/knowledge level of the student.  As students work through the modules and courses, they quiz and then complete a summative assessment at the end.  James explained that all of the modules require active learning.  A typical module has students read a short text.  The short text may include definitions at a simple level, and math and science as the level of complexity increases.  The students can click on engine parts and watch animations.   By level four, however,  the students are at a university level and must study theories.  For example, James showed me one module involving Watt’s Law, another involving calculations students are learning in high level math classes.  In fact, students can even reach a point where they build their own circuits and then test them to see how they perform.

In addition to the e-learning system the students keep a portfolio of their work.  This includes all of the certificates they are awarded for learning about the basics of how an auto shop works, their safety certifications, Electude certificates, and work orders.  Additionally, students perform demonstrations and give presentations.  Each step along the way allows them to access more and more.  For example, a student may work up to actually physically working on vehicles and at the highest level, his/her own vehicle.  

Differentiation meets students where they are.  Through the self-adaptive e-learning system, the multiple methods of demonstrating knowledge, and the collaborative hands-on learning environment, James has created a well-oiled classroom machine!  

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Questions to Consider
How can we build in multiple ways for students to demonstrate their skills and understanding?   What technology exists that allow students to manipulate and interact with content from our subject matters and, thus, enhance learning?