Friday, December 27, 2013

Change

This is the time of the year when people begin to think about changes they want to make in their lives.  People make resolutions, break resolutions, and some avoid resolutions altogether. I don't even want to talk about my resolutions to live a healthier life and loose weight. After reading a blog post from Pernille Ripp, I was was inspired to reflect on my changes for the next year.  For some reason I am better at making changes related to my classroom routines. So I'd like to share two changes in my class that I will begin once we get back to school.  The changes I am implementing involve classroom management and writing workshop.

Classroom Management
I have used "Class - Yes!" from Chris Biffle's Whole Brain Teaching for several years as a way to get my students' attention.  Basically whenever I need to get their attention I say a version of  "class" and the students respond by mimicking my tone with a "yes". The kids love it!  I try to add variety by saying "class, class" different ways. Depending on how they respond and whether or not I have everyone's attention, students can earn or lose points which translate into earning or loosing a privilege.  In our class we typically work towards earning extra recess.  

So what's the change?  Instead of keeping track of the tally marks on a chart, I will be using a number line with positive and negative integers to keep track during the day.  When the class earns a point, a student will move the arrow to the right.  Lose a point and the arrow moves to the left.  Even though negative integers is not in our standards, I think this is a great way to introduce this concepts.  The number line is posted near the door, so before we leave for recess it will be easy to take a quick look to see where we stand.

Here is a video explaining how "Class-Yes" works.



Google Drive
The second change involves using Google Drive during writing workshop.  I have been fortunate to attend a couple of technology conferences this year where I attended sessions about integrating technology during Writer's Workshop.  For some reason I just didn't think I was ready for that change before. It just sounded too complicated.  Then literally one day during the last week of school before winter break, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  The students were already typing their essays and then submitting them to me on Edmodo or ebackpack to review.  (Click here to read my previous post about ebackpack.)  If  they typed their essays using Google Drive and then shared that file with me, then I would be able to see what they were typing as they typed and I could write comments that they could instantly see.  At least that's what I remembered from the sessions I had attended. 

So I tried it out with a couple of students who were helping out in my room after school.  I shared with them what I wanted to be able to do during writing workshop.  My students' parents had already set up Gmail accounts for them so all they had to do was use their Gmail account to begin using Google Drive. We had already downloaded the app but hadn't begun using it.

Since we got our iPads this year my students have become comfortable with the idea of trying something out to see how it works. We were working on informational writing so they just typed their introductory paragraphs using Google Drive.  The students then shared their file with me by entering the address I had created specifically for our class.  With the click of a button I could see what they were typing and  I was able to make comments and edit their writing.  When I told them we would have to show the rest of the class how to do this, they suggested we make a video.  So off they went to make the "How to" video for the rest of the class.

Lessons learned 
Somewhere I read "The only person who welcomes change is a wet baby".  I guess that could be true.  Change challenges us.  Change can be hard.

But change does not have to be a grand gesture.  It could just be a little tweek here and there to make something you are already doing work better.  Change for the sake of change is unnecessary but change that results in a better you or a better me is well worth it! What changes will you be making when you return to school next year?



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