Tips for Using Exit Tickets

Exit tickets are a quick, easy, and great strategy to check for understanding and plan for next steps. The following are some things to keep in mind when using exit tickets:

Begin with the end in mind. Ensure your questions are precise enough for students to give you the information you need. Write questions that assess understanding, apply the concept, or demonstrate the concept.

Keep it brief. Exit tickets are intended to challenge your students while providing you feedback for planning. They should be able to be completed in under five minutes.

Examine the tickets carefully. Sort tickets into groups based on what you need to know. For example: students that understand the content, students that don’t understand the content, and students that you are unsure about. However you organize the data, make sure that it gives you an overall picture of your classroom.


Sample Exit Tickets (Fisher & Frey, 2004):

  • Write one thing you learned today.
  • Discuss how today's lesson could be used in the real world.
  •  I didn't understand…
  • Write one question you have about today's lesson.
  • Did you enjoy working in small groups today?
  •  I would like to learn more about…
  • Please explain more about…
  • The thing that surprised me the most today was…
  • I wish…

For more on Exit Tickets, watch this video.

5 Things To Do The First Few Weeks Of School

You are back in front of the classroom and ready to rock the 2017-2018 school year! You most certainly have gone over your classroom procedures. But if things aren't clicking along as you had hoped, it's not too late to set yourself up for the best year ever. Legendary teachers, Linda Kardamis and Viki Davis, chatted about this very thing on the Cool Cat Teacher podcast. Here are some takeaways: 

1. Spend more time on procedures than you think you should. You don't teach division, grammar, or the scientific method once and move on. The same goes for procedures. If your students don't master your procedures in the first few weeks of school, it sets the tone for the rest of the year.

2. Task analyze every procedure. We can't take for granted that students know how to successfully complete a procedure. "Pass your papers to the front of the room," can be done many ways. Be specific and teach each step.

3. Don't let the little things go. Note the student actions you find yourself redirecting over and over. Those are areas where a procedure may need to be taught.

4. Be a mentor, not a buddy. It's important that students like you (see Kids Don't Learn from People they Don't Like). However, students can like you without you being their friend. Students like mentors that are "both kind and firm, personable but not a pushover, understanding, kind, compassionate, and who deal with issues."

5. Prep for procedure violations. A lot of emphasis is put on prepping for lessons. But we must also be prepared for when kids break a procedure. Think about it ahead of time. "What will I do when a student runs through the classroom when the bell rings?" Being prepared keeps us from under or over reacting.

Adapted from, "5 Mistakes Teachers Make the First Week of School With Linda Kardamis." - The 10-Minute Teacher Podcast, by Viki Davis

Follow Linda Kardamins @LindaKardamis

Follow Viki Davis @coolcatteacher

3 Tools That Facilitate Authentic Engagement

Teachers constantly nurture the relationship between motivation and engagement. Knowing how to design learning experiences using strategies that build learner self-direction and ownership of learning sets great teachers and great lessons apart. There are many tools that can support the facilitation of authentic engagement where students are not just compliant, but can see a connection between the assigned task and the results. The following three are just a few of them:

Padlet - www.padlet.com

Padlet empowers collaboration across distances without much set up. Think of Padlet as an electronic Post-it note wall. The difference is, the Post-it notes can be text, images, and videos. Check out an example of how two teachers in two different classrooms use Padlet to facilitate student-to-student interactions. 

Socrative - www.socrative.com

Socrative enables students to use any internet-connected device with a web browser to become a student response system. Socrative empowers the teacher to receive real-time data about what students are thinking and understanding. See a classroom example here. 

PowToon - www.powtoon.com

PowToon is an engaging, easy to use publishing tool. It allows students to tell animated stories quickly and easily without a lot of knowledge about video production. See a classroom example here.

5 Levels of Authentic Student Work

When considering creating authentic learning experiences for students, think about the following five levels of authenticity:

  • Level One: Student produced a product that is not relevant to objective.
  • Level Two: Student produced a product is relevant to objective only.
  • Level Three: Student produced a product that has value inside the classroom.
  • Level Four: Student produced a product that has hypothetical value outside the classroom.
  • Level Five: Student produced a product that has value outside the classroom.

The higher the level, the more authentic the work.

Technology is the fuel...use it wisely!

When a teacher uses technology to enhance the instructional elements he or she does the best, that instruction will improve student learning. Technology is the fuel to your instructional fire. It can accelerate your instructional strategies. It can take your strong teaching to the next level. But if a teacher uses technology to teach the instructional elements he or she struggles with, student learning can actually suffer. Again, technology is the fuel. It accelerates the areas where you struggle in ways that can actually be destructive. When supporting your instruction with technology, focus on your strongest areas.

When a teacher uses technology to enhance the instructional elements he or she does the best, that instruction will improve student learning. Technology is the fuel to your instructional fire. It can accelerate your instructional strategies. It can take your strong teaching to the next level.

But if a teacher uses technology to teach the instructional elements he or she struggles with, student learning can actually suffer. Again, technology is the fuel. It accelerates the areas where you struggle in ways that can actually be destructive.

When supporting your instruction with technology, focus on your strongest areas.

Technology in the Classroom

When using technology in the classroom, there are generally three ways you can use it: 1. To teach the technology. “Today we are going to learn how to use Excel to create graphs.” 2. To teach content that can be taught without the technology. “Use Power Point to give a presentation about the Solar System.” 3. To teach content in ways not possible without the use of technology. “Download solar data for the past five years and describe one pattern you observe from 2000-2017.” https://www.helioviewer.org Although all levels of technology use are valuable, but deeper and longer-lasting learning comes from number three.

When using technology in the classroom, there are generally three ways you can use it:

1. To teach the technology.
“Today we are going to learn how to use Excel to create graphs.”

2. To teach content that can be taught without the technology.
“Use Power Point to give a presentation about the Solar System.”

3. To teach content in ways not possible without the use of technology.
“Download solar data for the past five years and describe one pattern you observe from 2000-2017.” https://www.helioviewer.org

Although all levels of technology use are valuable, but deeper and longer-lasting learning comes from number three.

Updating parents through social media. #yesplease

Every savvy educator is deeply aware of how important it is to partner with parents.  Indeed, most schools include the goal of strengthening the home-school connection in their school improvement plans.  

Yet, as always, time is a precious commodity for teachers – and parents – and the best intentions to connect - are often tepidly met.

What if you could have your students’ parents “follow” on a social media platform similar to Twitter?  Such apps exist!  One of the more promising ones is BonFyre.  Read all about BonFyre and other apps to enhance the home-school connection at the following link:

http://www.teachhub.com/educational-apps-4-keeping-parents-loop

"Marinate" Your Thinking

“Within the word we find two dimensions, reflection and action, in such radical interaction that if one is sacrificed – even in part – the other immediately suffers …” – Paulo Freire In a go-go academic world focused on the “correct” answer, it is easy to overlook the power of reflection. Students of all ages, from pre-schoolders to adults, benefit from the quiet think time coupled with either written or verbal reflection. Such “marinating” allows students to better integrate their learner. The following Edutopia blog post by Joshua Block explores the importance of reflection in depth. https://www.edutopia.org/blog/let-it-marinate-reflection-closing-joshua-block We are including the list of reflective prompts from the post for those who simply wish some quick ideas for prompting reflection: ·       Share one thing you learned. ·       Share a question for future investigation. ·       Respond with a word. ·       What worked? What didn’t work? ·       What is one part of your work that you are proud of? ·       How would you do this differently next time? Block, Joshua. “Let It Marinate: The Importance of Reflection and Closing." Edutopia. N.p.,  20 May 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.

“Within the word we find two dimensions, reflection and action, in such radical interaction that if one is sacrificed – even in part – the other immediately suffers …” – Paulo Freire

In a go-go academic world focused on the “correct” answer, it is easy to overlook the power of reflection. Students of all ages, from pre-schoolders to adults, benefit from the quiet think time coupled with either written or verbal reflection. Such “marinating” allows students to better integrate their learner.

The following Edutopia blog post by Joshua Block explores the importance of reflection in depth.

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/let-it-marinate-reflection-closing-joshua-block

We are including the list of reflective prompts from the post for those who simply wish some quick ideas for prompting reflection:

·       Share one thing you learned.

·       Share a question for future investigation.

·       Respond with a word.

·       What worked? What didn’t work?

·       What is one part of your work that you are proud of?

·       How would you do this differently next time?

Block, Joshua. “Let It Marinate: The Importance of Reflection and Closing." Edutopia. N.p.,  20 May 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2017.

Differentiated Instruction Made Easier

Every conscientious teacher works towards differentiating instruction in myriad ways, ranging from honoring students’ current reading levels to integrating high-interest, cross-curricular texts while providing an element of choice of topics.

Since this noble endeavor is also quite time-consuming, we are fortunate to have websites such as NewsELA just a browser search away!  Similar to CommonLit.org, NewsELA offers “text sets” of thematically linked readings and supporting materials.  NewsELA, however, focuses on current events.  

Check out this month’s offerings related to Women’s History Month.  The link below will take you to an article featuring the women from the Oscar nominated film, Hidden Figures.  It’s a nice piece of cross-curricular reading, too!

https://newsela.com/articles/black-women-nasa-history/id/21629/

Remembering Howard Gardner...The Father of Multiple Intelligence Theory

In 1997, Howard Gardner’s groundbreaking work on Multiple Intelligence Theory created a sensation in education circles.  Those of us who were teaching in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s will recall a flurry of activity designed to create instruction that honored our students’ multiple intelligences. Fast-forward 20 years, where we now either take Gardner’s work for granted or have never even heard of him.   Today, we take you to a quick quiz to discover your personal “multi-intelligences.”  Be sure to follow the hyperlinks to an interview with Gardner about his take on how his theory is applicable to current educational issues. https://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-assessment

In 1997, Howard Gardner’s groundbreaking work on Multiple Intelligence Theory created a sensation in education circles.  Those of us who were teaching in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s will recall a flurry of activity designed to create instruction that honored our students’ multiple intelligences.

Fast-forward 20 years, where we now either take Gardner’s work for granted or have never even heard of him.  

Today, we take you to a quick quiz to discover your personal “multi-intelligences.”  Be sure to follow the hyperlinks to an interview with Gardner about his take on how his theory is applicable to current educational issues.

https://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-assessment

iCivics: Civics Studies Your Students  Will Love!

Unfortunately, civics studies has a reputation among certain circles of students as being BORING!  

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we are sharing a website that aims to deliver Cupid’s arrow to naysayers’ hearts!  Developed by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, iCivics provides a plethora of high-interest, interactive resources with the intent of developing students into well-informed citizens.

https://www.icivics.org/games?_ga=1.56034027.1768385642.1487013829

We especially loved the interactive games.  They are better than a box of chocolates and a dozen roses, in our opinion!

Super Science Resource!

Did you know babies have 100 more bones than adults?  Did you know that a teaspoon of neutron star would weigh 6 billion tons?

The details behind these questions and other scintillating science facts make great brainteasers or can serve as the jumping off information for in-depth research.  

Visit “How It Works” for the full “Fifteen Amazing Science Facts that Will Blow Your Mind” at https://www.howitworksdaily.com/15-amazing-science-facts-that-will-blow-your-mind/.

Accomplishments

We are now 31 days into 2017.   It is a perfect time to think about what we have accomplished along side our students in the past 31 days!

On that note, enjoy the following quote to put accomplishment into perspective:

“The word accomplished is a relative term. We’re accomplished when the students and teacher both learn something.  As teachers, we can never achieve perfection, only strive to do our best and enjoy the journey. An accomplished educator is someone who learns to eat their lunch in six minutes.”

- Melinda, Abitz, Fifth Grade Teacher, Topeka, Kansas from The Best Advice Ever for Teachers (McGuire, C. & Abitz, D., 2001).

Today's Goal: Find DazzlingDifferentiated Texts Easily

Today’s Goal: Find Dazzling Differentiated Texts Easily!

We all know the value of utilizing high-interest, authentic texts that are differentiated by students’ Lexile levels. Unfortunately, time is a teacher’s worst enemy, and our best intentions often are sacrificed to competing interests.

Today’s resource is a ready-made resource for the time vs. differentiated authentic text conundrum.

https://www.commonlit.org/texts

The above link takes you to Common Lit’s home page.  In addition to its thoughtful thematic organization with paired texts, teachers can search by both grade level and Lexile ranges.  Moreover, Common Lit recently added a “Guided Reading Mode” feature; the introductory video is well worth a few minutes of viewing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igpf3O6JeoE

Users are asked to register, which carries the benefit of regular updates featuring new material.

Happy lit hunting!

Three Easy Steps To Be Even More Awesome

1.       Create a playlist titled “Best Day Ever.” Consider including the following songs: One Shot by Robin Thicke, No Roots by Alice Martin, and Shine by Asta. Play it loudly on the way to work. (But not so loud that you drown out talk radio in the cars beside you in traffic. That’s un-awesome.)

2.       Reduce the number of “selfies” you take by 50 percent. Increase the number of “besties” (photos you take with your friends) by 100 percent!

3.       Make the following cookie recipe and share them in the lounge/breakroom with a note that says, “So grateful to work with people like you.” Don’t sign it. http://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/recipes/a49242/oreo-chip-cookies-recipe/

Multi-Grades One-Stop Shopping Lesson Plans for MLK Day

With Martin Luther King, Jr. Day fast upon us, we figured teachers of all grade levels would appreciate the following ready-to-go lesson plans for multiple grade bands.

K-2nd Grade – “Dr. King’s Dream” - https://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/dr-kings-dream#sect-questions

3rd-5th Grades – “Let Freedom Ring: The Life and Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

https://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/let-freedom-ring-life-legacy-martin-luther-king-jr#sect-activities

6th-8th Grades – “Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Power of Nonviolence”

https://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/martin-luther-king-jr-and-power-nonviolence#sect-extending

You might want to bookmark this website, too, as it is an amazing resource for humanities-based lesson plans.

New Year, New View:  Goal Setting With Students

As teachers, we are accustomed to two “happy new years:” the academic new year and the calendar one.

Although the calendar new year marks the mid-point of the academic year, it is still a golden opportunity to take stock of our progress and to either re-commit or establish new goals.  Why not have our students do the same?

The following link takes you to a blog post, “Tch Tips:  Four Ways to Practice Goal Setting With Students.”

https://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/2016/12/30/tch-tips-goal-setting/?utm_source=newsletter20161231/

The article is chock full of useful tips and handy hyperlinks to additional resources, including videos.  Don’t worry if you don’t have time to go down the resource rabbit hole right now.  We will feature a few of them in the next few weeks!

Happy New Year!

Learning Menu: Science

In keeping with our menu theme, today’s video is called “Edible Cells:  Science is Yummy!” Although the video is not specifically an example of a learning menu for science, it is a great strategy for reinforcing plant cell parts.  We also provide some ideas of how to adapt the lesson to be centered or learning menu-based below.

https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/sixth-grade-biology-lesson

As you enjoy this video, you might consider:

·       How might using an “edible” product be used to reinforce other scientific concepts?

·       You might also consider adapting the lesson to become a learning menu in the following ways:  

o   Set-up the lesson as an inquiry, center-based lesson as opposed to direct instruction, as was featured in the video.

o   Provide a few “appetizer” activities related to previewing the nonfiction pieces at the beginning of the lesson.

o   Require students to choose and complete a “main course” activity, such as completing a graphic organizer detailing cell parts.

o   Provide students with different “dessert” options, with the “edible cells” being one choice. Or, the “edible cells” could be the only dessert option as sufficient reward for completing the rest of the work!

Furthermore, reading materials may be differentiated by reading levels and interests as well scaffolded graphic organizers.

Scrumptious science in action!   

Learning Menu: Literature, There's a Poet in Us All

“Joyful Writing.” Hmmm.  Seems like a contradiction in terms for most students. What if you could offer sweet writing experiences that will leave students motivated to finish their appetizers and entrées in order to get their dessert?

Our strategy today comes from Poetry Patterns:  The how-to-write-a-poem program by Jesse Hise (1982, 1995).  Although the patterns are designed to encourage poetry writing, they can be easily adapted to align to literature or informational text topics, therefore, making them ideal “dessert” menu items.

“Anyone Can Write a Poem” Poem

This is a nonsense poem that follows a simple formula:  C + C + WD + E =P

Translated:  comparison plus comparison plus wild dream plus emotion equals poetry.

Students brainstorm using the above formula.  Encourage them to allow their imagination free reign.

Instruct students to rearrange their brainstormed phrases to create a nonsense poem.

Provide an example for students follow; stress that their poem does not need to make sense and should not rhyme.

An example from Jesse Hise:

The Grand Canyon cut in the freeway

While the king’s blueberries

Became a garbage pit of fireworks

Marshmallow lions sank

In the moonlight

While I raged at the mirrors

In the sunset

“Person” Poem

This time, write the name of a person at the top (a good friend, a family member, a famous person).

Use the same formula: C+C+WD+E=P, but this time applied to the person selected.

Brainstorm comparisons, a wild dream, and emotion first.

Rearrange brainstormed phrases into any form to make a poem, but again, don’t worry about rhyming.

Jesse Hise’s book is chock full of poetry patterns that have been used by teachers for over 30 years as they are simple to use, are easily adaptable to all grade levels, and are a risk-free method for encouraging literacy.  You can find a sample of his book at http://www.teachinteract.com/pdf/INT372sample_PoetryPatterns.pdf.

Hise, J. (1982, 1995). Poetry patterns: the how-to-write-a-poem program. Culver City, CA: Interact.