The Standing Quiz: Get 100% Participation, Engage Student Metacognition, and Grade None of It!

What if I told you that there is a classroom activity that . . .

  • helps students prepare for upcoming multiple choice tests,
  • promotes metacognition,
  • gets students moving,
  • strengthens longterm memory, and
  • you don’t have to grade any of it?

Not only is there such an activity, but it is the kind of activity that can be appealing to teachers from different backgrounds and different styles. If you are the kind of teacher who appreciates traditional lecture, this is for you. If you prefer a more progressive approach to teaching, this is for you. And if you like research-backed strategies, this is for you! Continue reading “The Standing Quiz: Get 100% Participation, Engage Student Metacognition, and Grade None of It!”

First Podcast Episode Is Up!

IMG_20180716_130817_379.jpg

Dear Teacher, Don’t Give Up Episode 001

Welcome to the first episode of Dear Teacher, Don’t Give Up! We don’t fully understand what we’re doing around here yet, but we have to start somewhere. And that’s right here.

 

Subscribe to the Dear Teacher, Don’t Give Up! podcast

Apple Podcasts Logo PNG Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts Logo Google Podcasts | Anchor.fm PNG Anchor.fm

Continue reading “First Podcast Episode Is Up!”

In Her Words

A couple of months ago, I wrote about the week I sat down with all of my students to conference about their letter grades. It was eye-opening! Like, in a career altering change my life kind of way, eye-opening. I don’t know any other way to describe it.

I held about a dozen conversations that week that I will never forget for as long as I teach. Four of the conversations were really striking because the students were all facing similar experiences, thoughts, and emotions even though none of them had talked to one another, and as far as each student knew, they were the only ones who were thinking that way. Of those four conversations, one went so well that this student claims it changed her whole outlook on her place in school.

That got me thinking. What if you could hear her words in her own voice? Well, keep reading. And get ready to listen up because she let me record our conversation.

Continue reading “In Her Words”

More Encouragement, Less Judgment

One thing that always seems to surprise young teachers when they are starting out is just how much time they give to the work. It’s tough. Being a teacher requires grit, the capability to hang in there and stick to it. And the less experience one has on the job, the more time, thought, and energy must go into the effort of preparing and delivering quality instruction.

When I entered the profession, the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act was in full swing. That meant there were student proficiency targets, and if schools, departments, and teachers weren’t achieving those targets, something was wrong and some aspect(s) of what you were doing in the classroom was going to go through an uncomfortable change. Teaching without these extra layers of accountability is already dynamic and complex enough as it is, so you can imagine that those early years for me involved long nights of reflecting, assessing student work, and planning instruction. Continue reading “More Encouragement, Less Judgment”

Why More Teachers Should (Re)Start Blogging

If you’re reading this post, then you are looking to get back in to blogging, or you are seriously flirting with the idea of jumping in for the very first time. And if you’re like me–an educator with a compulsion to think about teaching to a point that skirts the limits of  what’s considered “healthy” AND someone who, at the same time, finds starting new projects scary–you want to get your ducks in a row before putting yourself (back) out there.

Since I have some experience starting and restarting blogs, and we are facing a new year, I would like to offer the small amount of wisdom I have. And, just as you are reading this post, I also want to state up front that I am positioning myself as a reader of this post too (because I can really benefit from my own advice). Continue reading “Why More Teachers Should (Re)Start Blogging”

How Do You Put It?

Have you been in this scenario before? You’re in the middle of what has unintentionally turned into a long-winded explanation, and you start to feel it: the students are losing focus. You still have a little more to say, so you want to stay on your train of thought just a bit longer. But you’re concerned you’re losing students at one of the critical junctures. Then you think you’ll pause, just really briefly, and check in with them with a simple yes-or-no question. You just want to know if they are making the effort to take it all in, and snap their focus back into place for a few minutes more.

At this point, which version of this question are you likely to use:

A. Does this make sense to you?

B. Does this make sense?

C. Am I making sense?

Let’s think about this from another angle. You’re attending a professional development workshop, and as a member of an audience drifting off, your presenter asks the crowd if one of his points is making sense, which version of the above would you prefer? To what extent does it matter? Continue reading “How Do You Put It?”

1 Week, 170 Conversations: What Students Really Say about Learning, Letter Grades, and Anxiety

A coupe of weeks ago, I did something that I have never done before in my classroom: I sacrificed invested a week of instruction to hold a one-on-one conversation with each one of my students. I had always made the excuse that it took up too many instructional minutes, and that I couldn’t sacrifice the time. And after that long-winded week the only regret that I have is that I did not start doing this much, much earlier in my career. That week, was an absolute revelation!

Before I share everything I learned, I need to inform you why I met with all of my students. This year, for many reasons, when it comes to assessing learning, I have decided that I will no longer use points. Instead, I am asking my students to apply the standards through purposeful effort on their assignments, on submitted work I am giving them feedback only (no mark), and I am holding a conference with them at the end of each grading period. They bring a showcase of their learning to the conversation, and together we determine the letter grade we will send home. Continue reading “1 Week, 170 Conversations: What Students Really Say about Learning, Letter Grades, and Anxiety”