Thursday, March 16, 2017

#214EdPrep: Karolina Shares Her Teaching Experience

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts discussing the collaboration of the Collab Lab and our EG Ed Prep students.  Please follow along on our journey using the hashtag #214EdPrep or clicking on the label #214EdPrep in the word cloud!

By:  Karolina Rusiniak

I intern at Clearmont Elementary school with the ESL program. The teachers compose normal lessons with the students, such as math centers etc. just like they would in their regular English classroom. I decided to try the app Classkick with the class this last Friday.  [See this past blog post about the Spark Session on Classkick.] I prepared a slideshow of about 12 pages of line graphs and worksheets and fraction free response questions. 

When I arrived, the class was divided into six groups each working at a different math center and would rotate every ten minutes or so. The students were very excited to do the classkick! They told me they have never done such an activity where they could directly write on their chrome book and have the teacher check their work automatically. They informed me that they loved the fact that I could check their work as they go and that I could give them stickers as rewards. Also, they loved working at their own pace through the presentation. 

What we found as a challenge was that it was hard to write on their chrome books and having the opportunity to write on their tablets would make it much easier. Some students successfully logged into classkick through the internet on their tablets and said it was much easier than working on their laptops. I am still working on exploring the program, but, personally, the only challenge I came across was that since the kids were divided into six groups, some would get on and some would get off the program and I would have to take some time and look for the students that are on the program to check their works- they were scattered all over the list. 

Other than that, I really loved using the program and they informed me that they would love for me to make another slideshow for their math centers again. I think that if I could change some things about the program, I would come up with a more effective way to alert the teacher when the student presses "please check", and I would love to have the students who are working on the program to show up in one place and the students who aren't to be moved somewhere else, yet still visible. Overall, I really enjoyed working with the program! I took some pictures, but I was told I could only use them for classroom purposes, but i will gladly show them to You in person.

More blog posts to come.  Follow #214EdPrep and @EGCollabLab for more!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A New Angle to an Old Problem: work ethic & motivation

By Kim Miklusak

Motivation and work ethic are two common phrases uttered by teachers at times, usually in a negative way: Why don't students care about this?  Why do they wait until the last minute?  Why won't they get off their phones?  And there are definitely so many reasons to discuss and improve intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation, learning targets, assessment practices for us as educators, and so on.

But one thing I've also been trying lately in my classes is to re-frame how I speak with students who aren't "on task."  Instead of walking around and saying "get to work" and "why aren't you working," I'm asking them, "What can I do to help you be successful?" or sometimes "Under what conditions can I help you demonstrate what you are able to do?"  I remember our principal using a similar question once in terms of working with staff, and I thought, this may work with students as well--not all the time, of course.  Sometimes students just need to get to work. 

However, sometimes we need to change the conditions under which they are working to make them more successful.  That could mean letting them sit outside the classroom door or on the floor.  That could mean letting them put headphones in to take away distractions--or whatever best fits your students, your environment, and your subject.  Additionally, this re-phrasing makes the conversation less antagonistic, which can help to alleviate any tension or frustration.  Students may be more willing to say they don't understand something or need a handout they are missing if we aren't coming off as aggressive and frustrated.  I have found this with my group of seniors and our most recent essay.

In the end the outcome may be the same no matter how we phrase it, but I've found some more unwilling students actually open up and say what they need to work on--again, not always, and not all students--but perhaps more than I would have in the past.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Student Voice: Models of Student Work

By Mark Heintz

I have been going around school stopping students at random to hear what they feel teacher's do that impacts their learning.  It is so important to continually ask the population we serve to get their feedback on what helps them master the content and skills we are trying to teach.  The responses have been so insightful into what works for each of the unique learners that enter our classroom and can continue to drive the methods we use to instruct them.  Once I captured the student's voice, I tracked down the teacher to share and get their input on the practice that was highlighted. 

The student I asked in the video highlights the way Mr. Asmussen uses different levels of student samples to improve students writing ability. 


Here is Mr. Asmussen explaining the impact and process of using student samples in his instruction.  


Friday, March 10, 2017

#214EdPrep: Spark Sessions on Grouping Strategies & Using Manipulatives

This is the sixth in a series of blog posts discussing the collaboration of the Collab Lab and our EG Ed Prep students.  Please follow along on our journey using the hashtag #214EdPrep or clicking on the label #214EdPrep in the word cloud!

In continuation of our Spark Sessions (read more here and here) with our District 214 Ed Prep students, Kim Miklusak and Mark Heintz presented different methods of grouping students and how to use manipulatives to activate prior knowledge.

Spark Session #5: Learning Various Grouping Strategies from Mrs. Miklusak

Kim passed out a worksheet of the various grouping strategies with each group, who, as it turns out, were all set up in self-selected groups.  

She walked the students through each type of grouping style, describing the definition of each and making connections to times in other classes that the students would have participated in such groups.  They briefly discussed the positives and negatives to each type of group so that the students would be able to apply different strategies depending on what lessons they are using with their own students in the coming weeks.

Spark Session #6:  Using Manipulatives to Build Background Knowledge with Mr. Heintz

Mark passed out envelopes to each group.  He had both big and little rectangles cut out in each envelope.  First, he had students look at the big rectangles.  There are words and definitions on various edges of the rectangles, and students are to match them up to eventually form a large rectangle.  Students worked through to match the words with the proper definition.  Then, he discussed other uses of this activity, as well as discussing methods to make this more differentiated (i.e.: providing different students with different "cubes", adding distractors to the outside rectangles, adding a time constraint, etc.)

Next, he had students move to a new group, creating groups of 3-4 consisting of no students from their original table.  They now were going to play an activity called "Word Grab" using the small rectangle pieces from the envelopes.  For this game, he says a definition, and the students have to grab the correct word.  Each word was a reason to use the activity.  For instance a few of the words were background knowledge, prior learning, and movement. 

Mark and Kim ended the session by looping back to Kim's lesson to show the class how they used different student grouping strategies to complete Mark's lesson!

Social Media
Following the Spark Sessions, Linda Ashida reminded students about the benefits of using social media for professional learning as well as reflection.  She also showcased Hannah Irizarri's blog post, in which she shares how she used a strategy from last week's Spark Sessions in her own field placement.

More blog posts to come.  Follow #214EdPrep and @EGCollabLab for more!

3/10: This Week in the Collab Lab

In case you missed it, here is what has been happening this week!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

#214EdPrep: Hannah Shares Her Teaching Experience

By: Hannah Irizarry

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts discussing the collaboration of the Collab Lab and our EG Ed Prep students.  Hannah implemented a lesson based on the Spark Session presented by Rachel Barry.  Please follow along on our journey using the hashtag #214EdPrep or clicking on the label #214EdPrep in the word cloud!

Last week Ms. Barry showed us different teaching methods that would help students learn. One idea that I really like was Mathketball. I felt like this would be such a fun activity for the 3rd graders that I'm currently working with in my internship. They're currently working on multiplication, division, and fractions. I wrote 5 problems for each section. Once I got to the classroom, I gave them all three sheets of paper and made sure to show them how to fold and rip so they had enough paper for each problem. I made them get into a circle and then I explained how to play this game. 

 Throughout the whole game the kids were laughing and enjoying the game but also were learning the problems. 

When I heard that a student wanted to “skip” a problem I would quiet them down and show them a different method to figure out the problem. 

After we were done they all went back to their seats and said that they wanted to play this again. I really enjoyed teaching them this game and watching them get the answers right. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

#214EdPrep: Spark Sessions for Engagement and Pre-Assessment Strategies

By Rachel Barry

This is the third in a series of blog posts discussing the collaboration of the Collab Lab and our EG Ed Prep students.  Please follow along on our journey using the hashtag #214EdPrep or clicking on the label #214EdPrep in the word cloud!

In yesterday's blog post, we discuss the background behind these Spark Sessions with our Elk Grove District 214 Ed Prep students.  

On the second "Spark Sesson" day, I presented students with a game to practice or review class material as well as using Google Forms to pre-assess students.

Spark Session 3:  Play Basketball to Engage Students in Practice or Review Concepts

The game is typically called "Mathsketball" in our department, however, I wanted to show students that they can play this game with any subject area.  To view the game the students played, click here.  

How to Play:
- Students are each given one piece of paper.  They must use this piece for all 6 questions.
- Once the PowerPoint displays the problem, you have 30 seconds to complete the problem.
- Students must show their work, and circle their answer.
- Before the buzzer, students will crumple their paper and toss it into the recycling bin.

Then we discussed potential adjustments to the game, including:
- passing out pieces of paper with the problem write out (if graphs, tables, or diagrams are needed)
- increasing/decreasing the time limit
- wait to provide answers until the end of the game

Additionally, we brainstormed other games that can accomplish similar practice or review:
- Jeopardy
- Battleship
- Scavenger Hunt
- Last Man Standing
*Stop by the Collab Lab if you are interested in learning more about any of the above!

Spark Session 4:  Pre-Assessment through Google Forms

The purpose of this part of the lesson was to provide these students with a method of pre-assessment.  Due to technology issues, students couldn't access the Google Form, and instead, I had to transition this focus into a lesson on flexibility.  For reference, here is the Google Form that was given to students to pre-assess their understanding of slope.  I displayed this for them, and we discussed how to use the feedback from the form to drive instruction.  Then, I changed the focus to discuss the importance of being flexible.  I explained to students that sometimes things don't go as planned, and we discussed the importance of being prepared with back-up plans in the classroom.  For me, the last question on the Google Form was the most important: "Of the four examples (Classkick, Socrative, Basketball, Google Form), which do you believe is the most applicable for your current placement?  Why?"  Because I still wanted the feedback from these students, I had students open up a new e-mail, address it to me, and answer the question.  I expressed to that that this was part of my goal for the day, I talked them through my thought process of how to still obtain this feedback.  

Student Thoughts

"I also really like the games like the math basketball because it something to do when it is kind of a relaxed day and there is not much to do or it is the day before break. I think I will use both of these things in the future as a teacher."

"I like the math basketball game because I really never heard of it till now but kids can easily copy off each other. I do think it's a really really fun game and a change. Plus it gets boring do the same thing everyday."

"I feel like the elementary kids I'm working with would love that."

More blog posts to come.  Follow #214EdPrep and @EGCollabLab for more!