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?"

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Saturday Teacher Inservice

I didn't have to go to this teacher inservice. It was scheduled for a Saturday, most of the day Saturday. Saturday is usually a day of trying to relax, going out for coffee, piddling about the house, vegging in front of the tv with the remote control firmly in hand. Not sitting in a teacher inservice for most of the day. But I did go.

Why did I go? Did I need the inservice for my California Credential required bank of hours ? No. I go my credential before they added the bank of hours requirement (150 hours of inservice over a five year period of time). But, I do feel that I am a professional and I need to find new ideas to add to my teaching tool box of strategies. Due to budget cuts, teachers at my school rarely get to go to any conventions or 'out of area' inservice opportunities. The inservice that was offered Saturday was designed for middle school teachers. It was titled: Rules of Engagement: Winning the War against Student Apathy" and facilitated by a Kentucky gentlemen named Dave Shepard. His personal manner and experience with teaching and administrating middle school were great. I enjoyed this inservice opportunity, and found some new ideas to include in my tool box of teaching strategies.

The best of what I learned and believe I can use include activities such as
Mix and Match, Test "Cheat" Notes, and "Stump the Teacher."
Some of you may be reading this an thinking, "Sheesh, we heard about these in Ed. School." Lets just say that when I was in Ed School back in the early 1980's, very little in way of instructional strategies was ever taught. We were introduced to stuff like SQ3R. It seems that a lot of work went into formulating or developing teaching instructional strategies after I got out of Ed School. Yes, the program I was in at a CSU school sucked and aside from the student teaching requirement, did next to nothing to prepare me to be in a classroom. But that was years ago; I have learned a tremendous amount about the craft of teaching since then, but anyhow, back to yesterdays inservice.

Dave noted, over and over and over of the need for the teacher to recognize and work within the parameters of the middle school students we are "teaching," they Talk, Move and Mess Around. Let them talk, but make it talking to each other about the subject, such as Pair-Share, Mix and Match and Four Corners activities. Keep them engaged. Let them move, not sitting in a desk chair for 40-50 minutes. As they move, yes, they will mess around a bit, that is the nature of a middle school aged kid. Most of the time, they are not causing harm.
I have assigned my students to do a study sheet as homework before a test or quiz, mostly as a review activity. I often let them use it on their test or quiz. One new idea I learned from Dave's workshop is to let them develop one "Cheat Notes" sheet, beginning with the new unit or section of study. They may take notes only on one side of their paper. This paper is turned in with their test/quiz.
"A Note to a Friend" is an activity done at the end of an explanation or demonstration. Students take a sheet of paper and write a note to a friend explaining the process, rule, concept, data or whatever it is they have just learned about. They then give their 'note' to a friend or verbally share what they wrote with someone else in the class.
In "What did You Learn Today", students are given a 'ticket' with a place to write their name and one thing they have learned from today's lesson. It is collected as they exit the classroom. Students can also draw something to show their learning.
Mix and Match is an activity that can be used with vocabulary or sequencing using index cards. For example, take index cards and on some of them, write the definition of your current vocabulary terms. On the other cards, write the vocabulary term. One group of students select the cards for the vocabulary terms and another group selects the group of cards with the definitions. Then, they mingle to find the matching pairs (vocabulary term with definition). They then read to their classmates the vocabulary term and its definition. (their classmates will let them know if they are correct).

In all, yesterday was a wonderful opportunity for some good professional growth. Did I need it? Yes, I am a professional, a teacher. Every professional, every teacher, needs to grow and work to improve in this craft called teaching.

Thanks for reading my blog! As always, I welcome your comments! And, please share your ideas or neat things you have learned about teaching instructional strategies.