Personalization Tip #4
Get out of your desk. Better yet, get rid of it! Sit with the kids while they work. For some reason, the teacher desk is scary and easy to get stuck behind.
Time is starting to get away from me. I had every intention of posting this yesterday, but laundry, meal prepping, and The Great British Baking Show took priority.
Usually I start falling behind a little later in the school year, but this is 2021. And I would argue 2021 is worse than anything 2020 threw at us. (At least… that’s how we’re feeling in my neck of the woods).
For us, we have wrapped up Unit 1 officially and are working our way through the learning of Unit 2. Below, I have some notes on navigating end-of-unit, all-or-nothing blackout deadlines and two group activities.
Our first hard deadline (“blackout deadline”) came and went last week. That means I had to put some zeroes in for the first time this year. Because I use a decaying average, these will be replaced when I assess the same standard again, but until then, those students are sitting with a 22% in the standards they did not submit work for. (Which - as you might guess - for some of them, is all of the standards thus far). It’s slightly panic-inducing for those kids, but as I tell them, it just means we reflect on where we went wrong and make the appropriate changes.
Similarly, I had a handful of kids that waited until this blackout deadline and rushed through their final assessment. Not surprisingly, I saw a host of inadequate work. Work that usually would have been revised. However, because they waited for the last second, they didn’t have the time to make these revisions. I have fielded a few questions about improving their grades - as you might expect. Instead of offering more time or re-attempts, I turn these into conversations about time management and making better pacing choices in the next unit. Again, we look at the mistake and make appropriate changes.
In other words, the kids who needed a reality check got one, but the mistakes won’t bury them in the long run. Instead, we focus on what we can do differently. I’ve found that kids will dwell in the past if you keep offering re-attempts or revisions. Sometimes, it is wiser to just move forward. (It’s one of the reasons I haven’t gone back since switching to a standards referenced grading system).
More Group Activities
I feel I mentioned it before, but even if a class is personalized, there should consistently be times where the class comes together. For my kids, I shoot for two group lessons and pick out the learning targets that I anticipate will slip them up. In this case, it was rhetorical appeals and composing defensible thesis statements.
Group Activity #1: Being a Compassionate Writer
One initiative that many schools are starting to implement is a portrait of a learner - or a list of dispositions that the school hopes to foster in students before graduation. Ours is called a Profile of a Graduate. As I designed units this year, I tried to design group activities that would line up with different dispositions. For this activity, I was aiming for compassion.
I used the following PowerPoint to guide the lesson. Notes for each slide are below.
Biden appeals to ______ in order to….
This is evidence when he said, “...
This shows his appeal to _____ because…
By using this appeal, Biden hopes to…
Group Activity #2: Defensible Thesis Statements
This is an activity that I have used for a couple years. It is a simple review of what makes a thesis statement defensible.
Here again is the PowerPoint with notes below.