Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My Students Rock! | Here's Why

My students do things that inspire me. You see, every lesson starts with a plan and ends with value that I could have never prescribed. Some say it's me. I say it's them.


Just when I thought the school year was over, I got this text on Remind. It was a picture of an item my student saw in a store. It reminded her of the first lesson of the year.


I particularly enjoyed her word choice. "Does this remind you of a certain history lesson?" We used the Remind app during class and after hours, so it doesn't surprise me that she would add a literary giggle.

This is the image from the first lesson of the year. The largest circle represents everything that ever happened and the black dot represents what we know. I'm more than pleased to know that this lesson made an impact on one student, if not many more.


Demonstrating Learning

The Remind text shown above was the best feedback I've ever received from anyone. It showed me that my students learned how to reflect and share their knowledge confidently. If that's what they can do when they leave my class, I've done my job.

But this didn't happen overnight. I had to model it. We had to share and reflect in multiple ways to make it part of our learning routines. We all had to struggle. But when the class began to thrive, it was awesome.

Check out some of the work they did toward the end of the year as I stepped back and let them take the reins.

This one was inspired by National Poetry Month (see the poems below, as well).

Not long after Remind released Chat, I put the slide presentation making in the hands of my students. I told them to find something on Google images that interests them and use Chat to share.

We later learned that if everyone has the Drive app, it's a lot easier to do this in a folder. Then the image viewer in Drive serves as a slide show. 

The content of these slides were collected in about a minute and a half, and I put it into Slides for students who missed class that day. 



Haiku written from the student-made Quizlet decks. (These are screenshots from student blogs.)




I found this slide presentation in my Google Drive. As it turns out, one of my students went beyond the expectation and turned her notes into a slide presentation.

What's better than that? Isn't it what we want all of our kids to do?



Finally, for a timeline project to summarize the periodization we studied in AP World History, two students made a coloring and activity book. This is what choice is all about.

Never in a million years would I think to do something like this. These students are apparently as cool as the Foo Fighters (Field Guide to Food). Nope. They're cooler!


What's Next?

Did I get every student? Probably not. Did I introduce learning tools in a strategic manner. Not always. Do I have my priorities in order for next year. You bet!

Trimming the fat (piles of initiatives) has been my secret for a long time. But now it's time to step it up and increase my focus. As Mike Schmoker puts it, the core effective practices are common curriculum, sound lessons, and authentic literacy.

That's what I'm focused on, so every other initiative is going to have to fit in with those. And they will. I promise.

My Students Are Great Teachers

I don't get paid to teach. I get paid to get better at teaching. And it only happens when I know who my students are. When you believe in them, meet them where they are, and expect that they achieve their own version of greatness, they will.

Thanks for reading my brag on my students.