Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Saturday, March 19, 2005

In my Classroom: Some Ideas

OK, I have mellowed out a little bit since my last post. I shall get back to positive things tonight. I have mentioned that I'd like to have some communications and sharing of ideas about being in the classroom. Abigail at social studies teacher (see my blogroll for a link) is sharing some great ideas for classroom teachers. I'd encourage any classroom teacher to check it out. Likewise, here are a few misc. tips I'd like to share for those readers who are classroom teachers:

a.] Dealing with work for absent students can be a pain and a hassle. I have been doing a
couple of things to make it less of a hassle and pain. If I hand out anything, I put the name
of the absent student on a copy of whatever it is I am handing out and stick it in a folder
marked "MAKE UP". When they return to class, I give them their copy of the handout,
worksheet, or whatever was handed out. Secondly, my junior school uses a daily planner. I
post my lesson plans on one of my bulletin boards and if a student is absent from class, they
can copy the lesson plan they missed into their daily planner. I will include in my lesson plan,
any DOL's, IMO's, Critical Thinking Questions, Quick Writes, TWPS's notes, Packet table of
contents, assignment due date reminders and other important data from that class day that
they need to know.

b] Teacher made quizzes and tests. For multiple choice questions, I will either make the
question a fill-in-the-blank question or statement completion and they have to write in the
correct answer, or, if I assign a letter choice for each of the answer choices, I try to have
what I call "no doubt" letter groupings. For example, if there are four letters being used for
four answer choices, I will never have a 'c' and 'e' letter choice together, a b and d, a u and
v etc. With my junior high students, many of whom are ELL, RSP, or maybe just slightly in a
hurry, dyslexic, or just having one of those "I am mutating into a teenager" days, not having
to argue with them over what letter they "meant" to write saves problems for both of us.
For example:
"The _?_ connected the Huang He with the Chang Jiang and helped improve transportation
in China."
a. The Great Wall of China b. The China Canal
c. The Grand Canal f. the Imperial Highway
For most students, there should be no confusion as to what letter represents each answer
or for a student to write the letter of their answer choice and have it look like another letter
of another answer choice.. Another grouping might be using g, h, i, and k. I would not use
i and j with each other. Likewise, I don't use m and n together either.
With True and False questions, I always have the kids use a + for True and a 0 for false.

c] Reading novels that are not necessarily history. Our school has an Accelerated Reader
program. I encourage my students to note social studies things as they are reading; any
history that is in their novel, geographic features and such. When they finish the novel, they
can turn in their notes and a short write up about the social studies they learned from their
novel and receive extra credit for it.

d.] I get a number of students mainstreamed into my classes every year. In many of their IEP's
it requires some differential instruction and testing. To differentiate their testing, I will
usually offer them fewer answer choices for multiple choice questions. For example, if there
are usually four answer choices to pick from, I will have only two answer choices on their
copies of the quiz. Word processor programs make this so easy to accomplish. Sometimes, it
is more work to accommodate these RSP kids, but hey folks, that's the law. I have also found
that having only three answer choices for a question helps my ELL kids; the fewer choices
make for less deciphering into English for them. Now as for my higher achieving kids, they
often have fill-in-the-blank, short answer questions and several "false" statements that they
have to rewrite into a "True" statement. These false statements may also contain spelling,
grammar or other English language usage errors that have to be corrected in their
rewrite. Once in awhile, I will throw an essay question at them. These kids often complain
and whine that "they get the HARD quiz/test," but most of the time, most of them rise up to
the challenge and do well on it. It is often worth more possible points than the 'regular'
quiz/test too, and they like that boost in their grades. Most parents have expressed
appreciation for their child being challenged in a non-GATE class. (our school only offers
Language Arts GATE classes.

I think I will end this post here. Hey, its all positive, I hope. No complaining or ranting about lack of administrative support or discipline, CTA being an undemocratic organization and their stealing more of my money, ignorant parents, etc. etc. Be assured, more ranting will come in this blog.

Thank you for reading my blog. And like attending a workshop or inservice, I hope you found at least one idea that might make your teaching job a bit easier or more fun. I welcome your comments !