Thursday, April 30, 2009

Post #23 - Teacher Laughs

This is completely frivolous, but I get a huge laugh out of it each time.

The semantics are so absolutely natural for a teacher, and yet, I had never thought about the possibility for misinterpretation before!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Post #22 - Deal or No Deal...modification

I just realized another variation on that game:

if you don't want to put time & money into a variety of rewards, you could put point values on the back of each card. Whichever team earns the most points at the end of the game wins!

But still, if you play it up and make it a stupid-funny thing, the piece of paper and pencil rewards can be fairly entertaining.

Post #21 - Deal or No Deal...kind of.

This game is based on the idea of Deal or No Deal, in that the students get to select a card of varying reward options for answering questions correctly. The back of the card reveals some kind of reward ranging from piddling $1 to extraordinary $1 mil. OK, so you're not giving out money, but you're giving out small rewards that are equivalent ($1 mil = 10 extra credit points on a test; $1 = a piece of paper)

Objective: To review previously learned skills & concepts
Materials: 3x5 Index cards, markers, Jeopardy powerpoint (or other question presentation), tape, lots of reward ideas

0. Create a review game of at least 52 questions. I found it easiest to use a Jeopardy Powerpoint template, erase the category titles, and enter in questions; that way I could just choose the questions at random.
1. Cut the 3'x5' index cards in half. You will need a total of 52. On one side, write a letter of the alphabet. When you get through the entire alphabet, start over with AA, BB, etc.
2. On the opposite side of the card, write one of your 52 reward ideas. Don't worry, you can repeat some of them. Here are some ideas: a pencil, a piece of paper (yes, just one!), candy, extra credit, homework pass, bathroom pass, bookmark, stickers. It's okay to repeat the rewards or offer various levels (10 points extra credit, 5 points, etc.)
3. On a board or available flat surface, tape the cards to the board so only the letters are visible.
4. Students CAN divide into teams OR you may just go down the rows, asking each student a question.
5. Using your Powerpoint review (or whatever form you'll use), explain the game to students:
A. You will ask a question.
B. Student who is answering the question must stand and give the correct answer.
C. If he/she gives the correct answer, he/she gets to choose a card from the board. They can reveal what they won (if you so choose), but do not give them the actual reward until the end of the game. They should keep the card at their desk for the remainder of the game.
D. If he/she does not get the question correct, he/she must sit down and play passes to the next student. He/she now has one chance. He/she may go retrieve a card for a correct answer. A second wrong answer means students sit down and you explain the correct answer. (if we play in groups, I do NOT do a second-chance at the question. If someone answers wrong, I explain answer and we just move on to the next question)
E. Next student! New Question! Keep going around the room until you run out of time!

There are certainly many variations on the way to play this. You could try and make it more like the real game show: I have a math teacher friend who plays the role of the host, "calling" The Banker, and he really hams it up. He's amazing at things like that. I don't have a game show personality, so I prefer this version outlined above. I can be crazy, but the negotiating with counter-offers off the top of my head is a bit too much for me. I also like this variation for myself because it requires accountability for every student, and it also lets every student get SOMETHING...if he/she answers at least one question correctly!

Does this take a bit of sacrifice on your part? If you give out a lot of physical favors, yes. But there's ways around it; for instance, I have a HUGE box of pencils in my room that a business donated (what is the Barnhill restaurant? Who cares! Free pencils!), and a pack of paper/stickers from the Dollar Tree isn't going to break me (tax deductions!). And then the prizes like extra credit, homework pass, and bathroom pass don't require any capital on your part, so I would use those as much as possible.

I think you get the idea. Try it for a little something different next time you have a review game. Good luck!

source: My awesome colleague and fellow 10th-grade teacher

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Post #20 - Thanks & Organizing Paragraphs

So, first, thanks for the responses on the last Q&A. I am fairly certain that whatever happens, we don't have to convince our school board of using a block schedule; we just have to convince them that their proposed modified block schedule is cRaZycake. I wrote them a letter last week - my husband helped me maintain brevity - in which I think I established the benefits of a 4x4 schedule especially in that teachers have fewer students.

If anyone reading this IS on some kind of modified block schedule where you don't have your planning period every day, please tell me it will be okay?

OK, back to business.

Our state test is coming up soon, so we're reviewing big time. The skills on the test are all 8th grade level, so I apologize if this is too simple for other high school teachers.

Paragraph Organization Activity*
*Unfortunately I don't have a cute name for this activity. Feel free to offer ideas!

: To synthesize a paragraph in a logical order and identify its structural organization.
Materials: Previously cut-up & labeled (via baggies or envelopes) paragraphs (about 6-7 total), brief explanatory .ppt

*quick notes: disregard the first two slides of my powerpoint, and student instructions for the activity are the last few slides. My students are in a competition, so they earned "points" towards their championship games. Give out rewards as you see fit :)

How long does this take? In about 20-25 minutes my honors students got through 3-4 paragraphs. Last year in my non-honors classes, they made it through 2-3.

0. You have already gone through the Organization Paragraphs Handout and made enough copies of each paragraph for 6-7 groups. I recommend laminating the sheets before cutting, if you can. Put them in labelled envelopes.
1. Using the Powerpoint, briefly go over the types of paragraph organization. If you have middle school students, you might need to go more in-depth. This is really just a very brief overview that assumes they've already heard about these ideas in some capacity.
2. Students should take notes during the presentation that they can use during the activity.
3. Use the slides on the presentation to explain the game.
4. Students get into groups - teacher passes out first envelope.
5. Get to it! Students will open first envelope and take out sentences. They must put the sentences in the correct order and then identify which organizational structure (from their notes) it reflects.
6. When they get it right, they can move on to the next paragraph.

Use your discretion in allowing paragraphs that aren't EXACTLY what you have. Some of these paragraphs are a little more fluid (#5, for example) whereas others like #1 have only one answer.

And just 'cuz I like you, here's a little something extra: Paragraph Organization extra practice
There are 3 pages to this Word Document:
1. Page 1 - a passage I pieced together from & Wikipedia and made up questions for
2. Page 2 - a passage I borrowed from for an activity like the one outlined above. This one is a little different in that you give them three sentences AFTER they put it together and they have to insert those three sentences logically into the paragraph.
3. Page 3 - my answer key & notes

Give 'em those links again, Bob!
Organization Paragraphs Handout
Paragraph Organization extra practice

source: Me(activity), & Wikipedia for serial killer passages. If you know where those turtle paragraphs originate, please let me know. I got them from a professor in college who was showing us different reading techniques (before/during/after activities), and I am pretty sure they're not her originals.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Post #19 - Q&A

Has it really been so long? My apologies! How time does slip away... That's the cry of every teacher, isn't it?

Do you prefer block scheduling (4 classes/day) or traditional scheduling (6-7 classes/day)?

Our county is changing graduation requirements, but in order to do so, they need to fit more classes into the schedule. They want to move to a modified block schedule that involves 7 classes year-round, meeting every other day, except for a specific day each week, where you will meet with ALL classes ...or something like that. To be honest, every time I hear about their ideas for "modified" block, it seems to change.

The main issue we teachers have with it is this: they will reduce our planning period and increase our prep. We will get an extra class (6)*, and if they have a modified block that means our planning periods will be every other day.

I attended high school on a block schedule 4x4...4 classes in the fall, 4 classes in the spring. I student taught on block schedule...I have taught 2 years now on traditional. I prefer block. This idea of modified block makes me want to tear my hair out, quite honestly. It is my plan to write a letter to our school board soon, voicing my support for block scheduling. It will be difficult not to ramble!

What's your opinion?

* see comments for further explanation. Sorry for the confusion!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Post #18 - Plot Points

This is a great, simple activity you can use to talk about plot. It's especially good when teaching a dense text such as Shakespeare. Obviously, you want students to dig deeper than just regurgitating plot points, but when you have something like Shakespeare, you want to make sure they at least get the foundation before moving on into more abstract discussions!

Plot Points
Objective: To understand plot development
Materials: Previously printed & cut plot points

Preparation: Choose 1-15 important events in your text and recall them in single sentences. Print them out and cut each sentence into a strip. Place events 1-15 in a zippy-bag or an envelope. Repeat until you have enough for as many groups as you may need.

1. Divide students into groups.
2. Give each group a set of plot events.
3. Inform them that each sentence recalls some aspect of the plot you are reading. They are to put these sentences in the correct order.
4. The group that finishes first wins! Have them read aloud the plot points in order so the other groups can correct theirs.

You can use this as review, a during-reading dissolution activity, or instigation for discussion.

For example, ask students: If you had never read this story before, what clues could you use to help you put these in order? Have them point out transition words, cause/effect phrases, etc.

Helpful hint: To enable you to check their sentences quickly, you could put a bullet in front of each sentence, but color each one differently. Then when you go around to check, you can just look for color-order. You could also number/letter each sentence...just make sure you don't number/letter them in order! You will also need to emphasize that the numbering/letter is for your checking purposes only. They should ignore it when putting sentences in order.