Tag Archive | English

Can I PLEASE do my homework?

Recently, Ms. Proch and I took two huge steps: we flipped our Pre-AP ELA 9 classes and we also implemented Outcomes-Based Grading (Standards-Based Grading for my American readers). Needless to say, we’re really excited, but I’m also a little bit hesitant/nervous/anxious/terrified. I’ve done both before, but not in an English class. Math made some much more sense to me when it came to exactly what my class time versus homework was going to look like, but English is a whole new kettle of fish.

Today is the first day where I noticed a huge difference in what my class is like. I assigned some prep-work (the work my class will do the night before a class) last night for my students to do. (You can check out my class website for the resources mentioned.) Their job was to watch a short video on Shakespearean Insults and to do a little reading about how to paraphrase when reading Shakespeare. Today in class, we took our knowledge about how to read Shakespeare and applied it to how to write like Shakespeare. They were tasked to act as a “secret admirer” to another student in my class and write them a kind letter. In theme with Valentine’s Day this week, this letter could be romantic (not required) or platonic, whichever the students were comfortable writing, so that I can pass them out anonymously on Friday for a little Valentine’s pick-me-up (some of them were super sweet–I almost cried reading how kind-hearted my students are).

Here’s where my students were struggling with the flipped concept: they were working, but not very hard. I reminded them that the assignment was to be completed by the end of class. They had more than sufficient time to complete this work if they were working diligently, but many of them were not. As the deadline drew nearer–fifteen minutes left, ten minutes left, five minutes left–the students began to panic more. Several students put up their hand at the five minute marker, and asked if they could take this home for homework.

Normally, I would be OVER THE MOON if a student willingly volunteered to take work home so they could complete it and “do a better job,” but I’m in the process of retraining their thinking on how class works. I said no, and they were dismayed. I took time to have a “teachable moment” and explain that they need to be maximizing their class time or we aren’t going to accomplish anything all semester. I’m lucky to have a spectacularly motivated crew, so they were on board with actually being productive. I am also fortunate that I get to keep my class all afternoon, so we dipped into some of fifth period to get the letters done to their satisfaction.

All in all, this was a great learning experience for me: I need to be grateful for my very eager students, I need to be more diligent with managing class time, and I need to reinforce the difference between prep work and class work (and the absence of homework).

My question to you, as readers, is what strategies do you use to help your students to transition their learning habits from a traditional classroom to a flipped classroom? 


Google Teaching Tools

Hi everybody!

So for this week, I decided to put google to the test (as per our assignment). I started off by just checking out the site and what it has to offer. I noticed a really awesome page for teachers to use with their students ( http://www.google.com/educators/index.html ). It displays recent projects and news from google so currently most of it is a bunch of links to election related material. Although I am not a social teacher, I think that these could be very good resources to use to get my students to write about for an english class (for example). It has mock elections, election video links, a “Letters to the next president” (I’m hoping they come out with a Canadian edition soon!), and lots of other great tools. I think this would be so helpful in teaching students about politics and national issues, or at least provide a topic to spark an interest for an assignment. I wish that my teacher (especially social studies) had used something like this to get me interested, excited, or even just informed about what is actually going on in the political world. I really hope they come out with a Canadian version, though. If they do, I will definitly try to incorperate it into my class.

I also found a page of google related posters. Some of them would be helpful to display near and computer, especially if I plan on using google tools. I don’t know that they would be all that helpful, but for students to have a reminder of how the tool their are using works, then I might hang up a poster or two.

Finally, I stumbled upon at site called “Google Lit Trips”( http://www.googlelittrips.com/ ) which basically uses google earth to “fly over” the cities or places mentioned in various books. This would be helpful for students to actually see what they reading about or follow the path of a character over the course of a chapter, or even an entire book. This is an excellent idea for better comprehension and would be what I would think to be a fun activity for students to do. There are also lots of helpful links on the page with various teacher’s guides etc., to use for inspiration.

I only have two big problems with the Teacher Tools. Firstly, as I said above, its not Canadian, so there won’t be some material that Canadian teachers might want. Secondly (and this is a big secondly), there is not a full subject range of tools. There is absolutely nothing (that I could find) that is even remotely math related. Being a math major, this disappointed me a lot.

Overall, for the general teaching population, this would be a GREAT site to use, but for a select few Canadian math teachers, probably not so much.