Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bumper Stickers

At our last professional development session we made “bumper stickers” to sum up the main points of our learning about assessment – a strategy that can be used in content areas to help kids remember the main kernels of information, or to take the information to a deeper level, by playing with it in some way.

Over the past couple of weeks in our monthly meetings at schools I have been listening for the kernels of what the teachers are saying, to see what they are thinking, observing, and wondering about their students, and their teaching / assessment practices.

Here are a few things that I have heard:

Partner thoughtfully for success

(The way we partner up our kids makes a huge difference --

especially those kids who are struggling)

Social engagement … first step to achievement?

(Social engagement doesn’t necessarily mean the kids learn more – however, they are there (and wanting to be there), attending, and participating… which means there is more potential that they will learn)

Community Matters

Teaching differently is energizing

(Yes it is exhausting too, but more fun for the teacher as well as the students.

One teacher said she is tired and trying to cut back on the planning

but when she goes back to an old lesson “it’s just too boring” for both her and the kids)

Some of the messages that teachers think are getting through to our kids at risk are:

Somebody cares

I believe you can do this

You are worth my time

You CAN learn

I am learning so much from the conversations each month at each school, and am so thankful for the honest discussions, the questions, and the thoughtful approach that each person is taking. The diversity in grade levels, subject areas, and experience of teachers has added such richness to this project.

1 comment:

  1. Judith,

    I like what you said about social engagement. If a student who is at risk wants to attend your class because he is enjoying himself... then I think we've won an important battle. Creating community will help provide the means to get to them academically.

    One teacher I spoke to told me that he doesn't ascribe to "gimmicks." I did not like the pejorative meaning because if a two minute activity or "gimmick" gets a student prepared to learn, engaged or gets them to talk about your class at home that night, I think the steps are in motion for them to want to attend and learn.

    If a student is so bored or disengaged that they skip and fail... then bring on the "gimmicks" to get them there.

    Also, humans are social creatures. Even if you take our project as an example - look at the good activities and units we've created as a group. So why do we often force students to work completely in isolation?