Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Keeping up with....the progress

Last go around, I spoke with each student once a week. I checked the grade book and them bring me their current task sheet. It worked well but there wasn't a tangible way to keep a record for the students. I devised this quick "My Progress" sheet. I copied it on yellow paper and had the students fill in the last date with the last day I will be using class time for the personalized unit.
A screen shot of "My Progress" sheet. 
The first time we chatted I went to every student in the class. That was a bit tedious and I did not have time for students who needed my help with quizzes or other questions. The last school day we had (we are on day two of a snow break) I had students with last names A through J. Yesterday I would have had K through R, and then today would have been the rest of the alphabet. I was going to skip one day and then start the process again. 

Most students have kept up with it. I like this method better than the other one because the ownership is put back on the student. Of course, I still keep up with progress through their grades. 

Another interesting part of this unit are the snow days. I am planning on sending out a remind text about keeping up with their unit. Many of the activities can be done at home. I have a few days to play with and can scoot the due date back a bit but we will have to move on soon. 

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Half way there!

Friday wrapped up our half way point. I have some students who have finished all 8 task sheets. They now need to complete the capstone project and take the test. However, I have some students who are still on their second or third task sheet. I try not to worry about that; after all, it is personalized and students should move at a pace that is best for them. Patience is something I'm still working on.
One of the 8 task sheets for the unit. The others followed the same principle. 

To create the task sheet I identify the information that I want to reinforce from the column notes. The column notes (based off of the VA SOLs) is always the first task. Last time I had the assignment for the column notes in the paragraph above the tasks and many students did not see the assignment and went pretty far along in the process without doing any column notes. Column notes are the backbone of my lessons and a student will be hard pressed to be successful without that information.

The activities are things that I did in the past and some activities are new. I worked closely with an ITRT here in the county to help me. She also taught WHI and put some of her old lesson ideas in these tasks. Another place I found information was either googling the information plus the words "lesson plan" or I scoured Pinterest.

This is one of the difficult parts for me. I want to be sure to convey the important information but also keep the students engaged. As with everything, this is an ever evolving process. I already have some ideas for next time.

This is the capstone project task sheet.  Students are to pick one activity and one SOL strand to work with (there is one that encompasses all of the SOLs).

Capstone for Middle Ages Personalized Unit. 
This capstone is new this go around. I wanted to students to take the information and move up the Bloom's scale from comprehension to creating.

I really enjoy personalized learning. It is different from the traditional role of a teacher. But that's okay. Personalized learning is about the student- not me. I enjoy challenging students and watching them meet those new goals.

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Let's Get Personal!

I am about to embark on my second personalized unit. I created my first personalized unit for our Rome study. That one lasted four weeks. This go around we are studying the Middle Ages for approximately three weeks.

First, let's discuss what personalization is in education. It's the insertion of choice and voice and the removal of place and pace. Let's first talk about what I've put into the lessons: choice and voice.

The idea of choice and voice is moving away from the direct instruction where the teacher drives the content delivery. This is very active for the teacher and extremely passive for the student.  Giving the student choice can through what is known as a choice board or task sheet.

Each SOL has a task sheet. A change that I made from the last personalized unit with in regards to the task sheet are each SOL has its own task sheet and each task sheet has six tasks. Click the link below to view a pdf of my task sheet.


Voice comes into play a couple of ways: First, I asked students what they thought and what they would like to see change the first time around. I took the suggestions under advisement and implemented most of the suggestions. One of the suggestions is on the task sheet- the option to test out of the majority of the work. This rewards students who come to class with prior knowledge who do not need to spend as much time on a strand that they already know. I set up a fill in the blank quiz on Schoology. The quiz is timed and the student must score a 100 in order to test out.

So let's now discuss place and pace. Pace is much easier to allow for. Students are given a dead-line for everything to be completed (all tasks sheets, the capstone (see later post about this) and the summative assessment. What they do between the introduction and deadline is up to them. I expect them to work while in the classroom. However, I tell them they probably won't finish if they just work in class. Most students utilize their connections class (think study hall) to get the work completed. Another great benefit is for students who are absent. I currently have a student who is a page at the state capital and this program is perfect for someone in this situation. The ultimate strategy for this type of learning environment is to rid the student of specific periods where they need to be in a specific room for a specific piece of time. In this scenario the student would come to school, check-in with teachers that they need to see and then work on assignments given to them: either through the choice boards/task sheets or independent assignments. I imagine it like a school/college hybrid.

In the next few posts I will be narrating how things are going in our class, challenges, and happy moments from our personalized unit.

Happy Teaching!