Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Plan to Keep Your New "School" Year Resolutions

Soon, or perhaps already, a new school year will begin.  With the start of a new school year, we all make "resolutions" about what we will do different, what we will change, new ideas that we will implement and how we hope our year will go.  Unfortunately, unless you have a plan, like the New Year Resolutions we make on January 1st, these will quickly go to the wayside, discarded and wasted.  So this year, I am going into the year not only with resolutions but also a plan as to how to implement them! 

Resolution One:  Establish a classroom environment that encourages classroom discussions.
Getting to Know You
Why?:  One of the biggest challenges I encounter at the secondary level is that students don't want to participate in the classroom discussions because they don't want to be wrong!  In order to combat this I need to first help students to feel that is a) safe to talk, b) safe to disagree and c) safe to be wrong. 
Plan:  My plan is two-fold.  First we are going to establish together a set of classroom discussion expectations and consequences.  By creating them together, the students feel that their voice is being heard AND they start participating in the discussion without even knowing it!  The second part of my plan involves getting to know my students and having them get to know each other.  I purchased a fantastic resource (Getting To Know You - 3 activities to help you get to know a new class) from Stacey Lloyd on TeachersPayTeachers that includes three different getting to know you activities. One is a one page page that the students fill-out on themselves, the second is a reflection on the previous year and the third is a peer interview!  Perfect for starting a new year off showing the students that you truly do care about them!

Discussion Starters
Resolution Two:  Once I get the students to participate in discussion I want to take those discussions to the
next level.
Why?:  My experiences have shown that the better a student can communicate mathematically, the better their understanding and retention of mathematical concepts.
Plan:  I searched and searched and finally found a set of question starters that I think will work well.  I printed them on cardstock, laminated them and put them on an O-ring so that I can have them with during class.  I will also go through the questions starters ahead of time and tag a few key ones that will fit the lesson of the day well.  The cards are called "Discussion Starters for Math Problem Solving: Questions for Critical Thinking" and are written by Angela Watson on TeachersPayTeachers

Resolution Three:  I want to help my students to feel more comfortable asking questions and expressing what they don't understand.
Why?:  When students hold questions in, they hit a roadblock and miss future information because they
Signs and Headers
cannot get over it.

Plan:  In addition to small group, one-on-one and other personalized questioning methods I am going to establish an exit-wall.  It will be a place where students can place sticky notes expressing what questions they still have and what they have understood really well.  I saw the idea in a set of headers (Signs and Headers for the Secondary Classroom) that I purchased off of TeachersPayTeachers Store Room 213 .  The headers have all different types included such as months, days of the week, signs to post on the door if you are out of the room and the set-up for the exit wall!  This way students can sign their sticky notes or put them up anonymously!  

Resolution Four:  I want do more than just present lessons, I want to get the students exploring, talking and working together too.
Task Card Bundle
Why?:  The more responsibility a student takes for their own learning, the more successful they are.
Plan:  I am going to implement task cards.  Task cards allow students to work on a single problem at a time and really focus on one main concept without feeling overwhelmed.  (See my post here for more in-depth discussion about task cards). I have written five sets for the first unit of Geometry that hit upon all of the main topics covered in that unit.  I will implement them in multiple ways including small groups, as exit cards and as part of a station activity.  I have all five sets available in money-saving bundle here.  

With a plan in place, I hope to be more successful!  I hope you've also gotten some ideas and some products to help you to be successful as well!  Good luck in your new school year!

1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of making resolutions for the new school year!


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