Monday, March 23, 2015

~*Worksheets and Dendrites*~Ch 1 & 2

Allowing students to brainstorm and discuss is something I feel I do all day long! My students have journals for every subject. This provides the perfect place to brainstorm ideas for questions that I pose. I learned early in my career that choosing one student to answer questions was not my style (mainly because it bugged me that the disengaged students constantly got out of doing the thinking). I think it is important to give everyone "thinking time" and my students quickly get in the habit of jotting ideas and responses when I pose questions, especially in reading and math.

This year, I have increased partner and group work to capitalize on my students' love of talking. (Look on the bright side!) Early in the year, I realized that my students loved to talk. The first week of school, I was really unsure of how I was ever going to get them to be quiet and work. I find myself often saying "How can I do this where they get to talk?" My students have multiple opportunities throughout the day to discuss and work in partnerships and small groups; we are often engaged in a group project where they have to work with the same classmates long term. With small group and partner activities, engagement and participation increases to nearly 100%.
With our recent Ecosystems Museum Exhibit (project based learning), I have fallen in love with using art in the classroom. Project-based learning is a perfect reason for incorporating art, and I not only included it in my students' culminating project, but their research pages contained multiple opportunties for them to draw what they had learned. I'm definitely on the look out for more ways to allow my students to sketch, draw, and paint in the classroom and have plans to increase my use of art next year. I had to put this strategy under the "sometimes" category.
During the first week of school, I was going back and forth about whether or not to have my students create Heart Maps. Holy-moly, teacher-friends, am I glad I did!?! I have little artists in my classroom. They worked so hard on these things and took their time. {I should have known then that drawing was the way to their hearts.} And, doesn't art often allow certain students to shine?
I have greatly increased my use of sketching and drawing in math with our fractions unit. Students have drawn and colored pies, pizzas, cookies, chocolate, and cake! I found an amazing set of math resources from Georgia from their Common Core performance standards. I modified their handouts a few times, but if you want something hands-on with a little bit of art incorporated, go to this website immediately. I used the 3rd and 4th grade materials, but they have them for K-6.
In my previous post, I reflected on my use of the 20 strategies discussed in Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites and categorized them as "I already do that-A LOT," "I already do that SOMETIMES," and "I hardly ever do that." I am enjoying the reflection that this book is putting me through. Even if you are not reading the book, I encourage you to look at the strategies and see which new ones you might implement more often. 

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