Student Choice and Social Studies

If you read my blog you know I’m doing something different in my class this year. I’m giving my students choice in everything they do.

We have just completed our first social studies project together and I wanted to share the process and outcome.

In Grade 6 students about supposed to learn about Canada’s impact on the world. I decided to share a Canadian History timeline with them and let them choose a topic of their choice.

Some of the selected topics were

  • World War 1
  • How Ottawa became the Capital
  • Hockey in Canada
  • Schooling in the 1700-1800’s

Students worked in groups to create something to show the class.

The presentations were varied. We had mostly slideshows but also had posters, homemade videos, and models.

After their presentations were completed I gave the group a self assessment rubric and they went off and had time to self-reflect.

I met with the groups later that day or the next day and we compared their self-assessment rubric with the one I completed. We discussed the differences in the rubrics and the similarities. If there was a discrepancy, I let the students determine what grade they should have.

When all the presentations were discussed, we met as a class to talk about the project in general. I wanted to know what did they like, and what needed to be fixed.  

As you can see, the class loved being able to choose their own topic, assessment type and they got to work with peers of their choice. Next time we are going to add some immediate peer feedback. Right after students present, their peers will share one thing they really liked about the project and one thing they would like to see next time.

We also discussed how they could improve their own project next time.

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The experience giving my class choice in their learning has completely changed the way I look at teaching.   The students couldn’t wait everyday to work on this project and were highly focused during their group work. I love talking to my class to get feedback about how the projects are going and it will be something I continue to do for the rest of my teaching career.

Introducing Google Classroom

I knew the second that I was told that I would be teaching Grade 6 next year that I would be using Google Classroom with my students.

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I decided that in the first week of school I would introduce Classroom, get them to join our online Classroom and introduce a very simple but fun get to know you slideshow. First, I showed them my “All about me” Project and then showed them how to access theirs.

I made each student a template in which they could create their own “All about me” Project.

This is what it looks like in Classroom.

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I only showed my students how to write in the slides and add pictures. I was amazed that some students were so excited about this that they figured out how to change the text colour, insert gif’s, and change the theme of the slides.

A great first project using Classroom!

*NOTE: Even though it says 6 are not done, they just forgot to turn them in.

 

First Week of School Plans

The first week of school is the most important one in the whole year.

Design your own Classroom and our Class Theme:

I have written many times about reading “Passionate Learners” by Pernille Ripp and how it changed my teaching practice. This year since I’m teaching Grade 6 I really want to give my students voice and choice in all aspects of my classroom. It starts with setting up the classroom.

We will also be deciding what we want our class to be called, our portable called, and our theme song. After this has been decided we will create out classroom blog and twitter account based on our theme.

Asking Classroom Questions:

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Team Building Activities:

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Character Calendar by Blair Turner:

Character and Digital Citizenship will be a HUGE focus in my classroom this year. I love these Character Calendars that Blair Turner made.

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One Word Project and Goals:

We are going to be setting goals each week but in the first we are going to think of our goals and then decide on one word that we will focus on for the year. This is where I got the idea from.

 

2015 Classroom Reveal

I worked all week long to prepare my class to be ready. I’m so excited for a new year and to teach Grade 6. Here is the current setup of my class but I’m going to let the students have a say in it as well.  I’m so excited about the tables for collaboration, map for our wordly connections and the self assessment posters since we will be focusing on it highly this year.

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Learning Skills-Self Assessing and Reflecting

I created the below document to help my students learn about the learning skills we assess them on in Ontario. I am going to give them this document at the beginning of the year so that they can create goals about these learning skills. I want my students to  be able to self-assess and reflect on what they can do better for the next term.

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Click on the picture for the link.

Questions about Planning Math for Grade 6

This year I really want to plan incorporating student choice and voice in my classroom. The only place I’m really stuck is Math.

In Math I really want to practice Problem Solving every day, do real world applications, and allow my students choice in how they learn and practice the math skills.

I thought about doing a task list of tasks the students can accomplish to show and practice their learning. Here is the idea below.

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Also I wanted to do more self assessment and more accountability in their learning. So I created this.

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This is a very rough idea but I would really appreciate your feedback.

Grade 6 Planning

This is my first year where I got a say in what I’m teaching next year. I had already heard of teacher’s filling out the form of choices of what they wanted to teach next year but this year it was my turn.

The form asked for my top 3 choices on what I wanted to teach next year and why. My top choice was Grade 6 and my reasons were to connect them to the world, to have choice, voice and engagement in my classroom and to find their passions.

As you know if you have been following me or my blog, I got Grade 6 and I’m beyond excited.

Here are some projects I’m planning on participating in throughout the year:

World’s Largest Lesson:

The UN is going to announce new Sustainable Development Goals in September. World’s Largest Lesson is getting students involved to create change on one or more of these goals.

Website: https://www.tes.co.uk/worldslargestlesson

Student Vote:

Lessons: http://www.studentvote.ca/on2014/teaching-tools/elementary-school-resource/

Ties to Curriculum: http://www.studentvote.ca/on2014/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/ON-ELE-EN-Lesson-Curriculum-Connections.pdf

Global Read Aloud:

We will be reading ‘Fish in a Tree’ by Lynda Mullaly Hunt for the Global Read Aloud 2015. The Global Read Aloud begins on October 5th and there are many books to choose from.

Global Math Tasks Twitter Challenge:

Math Challenges created by teachers and students for others to solve. You can sign up for a week to create questions or you can just participate by answering the questions posted.

Any grade level is welcome!

Sign up here: http://gmttc.blogspot.ca/p/sign-up.html

Kid Tech Coach:

This is my own project. I wanted to start a website where students are the experts and they teach other students how to use technology. 

Follow Kid Tech Coach on Twitter @KidTechCoach

Genius Hour:
This is something that I tried to participant in in my Grade 1/2 class but I’m excited to do it with my Grade 6’s. Finding your passion and allowing choice in classrooms is something I’m really passionate about so I’m so excited to be a part of this process.

 Global School Play Day:

A whole day where students come to school to play with toys that they bring from home. There’s only one rule: no electronics. I’m hoping my whole school will participate. 

For more info, check out  http://www.globalschoolplayday.com/

Happy Classrooms:

This movement was created by Kayla Delzer and Greg from Kindersmorgie. It’s about sharing positive things happening in your classroom once per day using the hashtag #happyclassroom

  

What I learned from ‘Unshakeable’

I began gearing up for my Summer Reading plans in May and wanted to get a bunch of professional books that I could read. I have a huge list on Goodreads but wanted something special to read, so I reached out.

Pernille Ripp is an influential teacher and person to me. Her book, ‘Passionate Learners’ changed my entire viewpoint as a teacher. You can check out my blog post about her book ‘Passionate Learners’ here and her other book ‘Empowered Schools, Empowered Students’ here.

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I had never heard of ‘Unshakable’ but I went online and ordered it right away.

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This is what I learned from Angela Watson’s ‘Unshakeable.

  • Bring your personality into your classroom. We are all unique so share with your students what you are passionate about and what you love. If you share your true self with students, you will have a better time in the classroom and create a stronger bond with your students.
  • Be present. At school with your students or when you are completing your work. Don’t watch T.V. while you mark papers because you will be doing it all night long. Focus on marking and allot yourself a specific amount of time to truly focus. In the classroom don’t multitask. Listening and look at your students, be involved. The work can wait.
  • Make lists of what you need to complete daily. I find this so important for me. If I don’t write it down on a list, I will forget about it. Writing my to-do’s on a list will ensure that they get done, even if I’m procrastinating completing them.
  • Prepare for the morning to make it less stressful. Next year I’m going to pick out what I’m going to wear the night before. I find I get stressed by this decision and it makes me frazzled and I just grab whatever to wear. When I look better, I feel better so I will make time for that.
  • Make a positive impression with parents on the first day of school or before. Call or leave a message introducing yourself, your contact information, and Meet the Teacher night info. This will start a positive relationship from day one.
  • No more complaining or listening to complaining. Change the subject or walk away. This year is going to be positive.
  • I need to create a personal and classroom vision statement.
  • Let the students discover why you are teaching a certain lesson. Why do you need to know this now?
  • Have fun! Create a classroom music playlist with your students. Dance, and be silly.
  • Students and teachers both need down time throughout the day. Plan to have downtime worked into your schedule. If you are feeling drained, your students are too.
  • Teach and reteach routines and procedures. It’s good for the teacher as well as the students to know exactly what to do. If there are changes to the routine, write them on the board.

Obviously from this list I learned a lot. I really encourage all teachers to buy and read this book. I will definitely look at this book for inspiration and for resources for years to come.

Kid Tech Coach Units & Lesson Plans 

 

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I’ve been working on Kid Tech Coach, a technology tutorial website for students by students and I’m so excited to launch it soon.

I’m looking for units and lesson plans on how to create or how to identify a good tutorial. I’m looking for any grade level, any curriculum links, or any subject matter.

Your unit or lesson plan will be posted on Kid Tech Coach with a link to your website, teacherspayteachers store or anything else you would like. It’s a great chance to add something else to your resume too.

If you have already created one or would like to create one, please email classcollective@gmail.com or kidtechcoach@gmail.com

Thanks so much!

Get Connected: Professionally and in your Classroom

On July 14th, 15th, and 16th I was honoured to present “Get Connected: Professionally and in your Classroom” for ETFO’s Summer Academy. I was a 3 day course that I created, organized and presented.

Maybe you are interested in this course but could not attend so I’ve decided to share my 3 day presentation and resources I used in the course with you.

The course covers:

To get the entire course, click on the picture below

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