Thursday, September 12, 2019

Document Yelp Review!

You know what I love most about my Social Studies PLC group that meets four times a year (besides the food...)? That I always walk away with something that I can use in my classroom. Even if I don't use it that week or even month. It's always there, hanging out in the back of my head as something to use to "spice up" a lesson. If you're a teacher in Kansas and can sign up for workshops at ESSDACK in Hutch... this one is worth your time. Plus we're a fun bunch!

Document Yelp Review is one of those. Last year we did an activity that had our teacher groups rank the "usability" of various historical thinking websites. We looked at many factors and then gave them a ranking of 1-4 stars. Much like a movie or Yelp review. This is an awesome activity to adapt for the classroom, and one that I loved watching my Juniors use today.

Lesson Plan: (As much as my lessons are actual plans...)

Promoting Temperance
Materials and documents provided by SHEG lesson. Click HERE for SHEG

Big Question: What methods did people who supported temperance use in order to convince the American people of the need for a prohibition amendment? Which method do you believe was the most effective and why?

Opening: I gave a short lecture (students taking notes was optional, I provided the slide presentation in Classroom) on some background information on the temperance movement and prohibition. We ended with the BIG QUESION that students would be eventually writing their own responses to. This took maybe 15 minutes. Want that slide HERE

  • I placed kids in groups of 3 randomly.
  • Reading through the instruction sheet, I explain that each person would have a distinct "role" to play in the creation of this activity; Analyst, Scribe, and Spokesperson. Analyst was to be in charge of the discussion of the documents, keep everyone on task, and keep track of time on task. Scribe's job was to create the "Yelp Review Chart."  Spokesperson's job is to explain the team's ranking and why to the class. I then read through the remainder of the instructions making sure everyone was clear what they were doing. Want the Instruction Sheet? Click HERE

  • Students analyzed four documents as a team deciding the "star ranking" of 1-4 based on their view of the effectiveness the document had for convincing people to stop drinking of practice temperance.

  • Groups created their poster by listing the title of the document and drawing their number of stars.

  • Sharing. Each spokesperson shared out the groups rankings and reasonings. Each group was different, and different than I would have been. Interesting! 
  • Students completed their own written response to the big question in Google Classroom. Want that assignment and rubric? Click HERE

I only graded the written response here. That was done individually and tells me more about what each person knows that observing this activity. I work to be selective about where I spend my time grading, and assessing each student on their own responses to the big question is definitely worth my time. 

Reflection Tip: Call the "poster" a chart instead. To students, a POSTER sounds like a project that should include more detail. The may have freaked out a little when I told them the poster should be done by the end of class. Chart is a better term for the required outcome. 

What I love about this...

It allows for each person to have a distinct role and be responsible for something specific. This allowed for groups to utilize their strengths and/or be forced outside their comfort zones a little without the pressure of a big graded project hanging over their heads. 

It provided a different way for students to use their analysis of primary sources. Sometimes when we're working with documents daily, it can get to be the "same old thing" and this activity allowed for team discussion, analysis, and a quick justification of their reasoning along with a connection to their world by calling it a "Yelp Review".

Finally, this is easily used with different topics in almost any class you have. Win Win!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Polish it Up - Take 2!

A year ago I wrote a post about an idea I had to help students apply a growth mindset without costing us more time and energy that what we would normally do in class. It was called "Polish it Up Day". You can read about the entire thing HERE.

This post is about my own reflection of the concept, and how I made changes (by applying a "growth mindset" to my own teaching) And how MUCH BETTER this has become, thanks to reflection and growth.

What Didn't Work
  • With the "Polish it Up Day" at the very end of the semester, before Christmas Break, many students simply didn't want to redo work. They had already "gone to break" and even though parents encouraged them to take advantage of the opportunity...many didn't. 
  • Some kids did try to "polish up" and were trying to complete work that was done over 9 weeks ago. They struggled to improve their scores, find the necessary materials, or even remember what the assignment was.

How I fixed it.

There was really one major change that I made that fixed these two problems. Instead of having it be one day at the end of the semester, I have it included as part of our "review day" before the test of a particular unit. Each review day before a test and up until the end of the class period on the test day, students can resubmit anything done during that unit for a better grade. Once the test day passes so does the opportunity, for that unit. We move on to the next topic, and so do they. Grades stand after that. 

This goes for any student and any grade. If someone scored an 89% of a writing assignment he/she can go back, add more details, make corrections and improve their score. Same for someone who had a 56%. Everyone has the opportunity to get better. 

This is also perfect because by redoing those assignments it is a great way to review for the test other than just filling out the review sheet. It also gives kids more than one shot at improving throughout the semester. 

The Results:

This was great!I am so happy I didn't just throw out the "Polish it UP" idea because I had so many students take advantage of the opportunity to get better. I had F's turn into C's because of this. I had students come to me to ask clarifying questions, explain their grades, and review material before a test. This will definitely remain in my daily rotation.

Also...what a great conversation to have with parents at conferences when they as what their child can do for a better grade. I have no need for extra credit and parents will appreciate the opportunity as well.