Middle School Update

April 22, 2016

Productive Failure

I just read an interesting article on Productive Failure in the classroom. The author has come up with strategies to plan lessons where the students will not succeed, but will learn a great deal. A big teaching strategy he says does not work well is direct instruction. He has done research in both Singapore and India with a wide variety of students. I would encourage you to read this article for some specifics on ways to plan lessons for Productive Failure. The research is mostly on math classes, but it applies to all disciplines.

Creating Instructional Videos

Here's another great article on using videos in the classroom. One school is having students create videos of how to solve math problems, then saving all of those for future students to access. What a great use of resources!

Important Dates

April 25-26: Accreditation Team Visit

April 26-29; MAP Testing Schedule

April 26: Divisional Meeting, 4:00 (ESLR Awards Selection)

April 27: Q4 Progress Reports Due

April 29: All S2 Newsletters must be sent out

May 2: No School (Labor Day)

May 3: PD Meeting, 4:00

May 9: SCIPS visit (5th grade only)

Top 10 Active Learning Structures: The Final Summary

As I’ve been writing these newsletter blurbs the last few weeks, I’ve been reminded once again of the diversity with which active learning can be incorporated into any classroom. Each structure can be used so many different ways, and it can be adapted to all ages and stages. As you go through Curriculum Trak to map your units and choose your active learning structures, I hope this review of each of those structures will help you in the process of sorting out how to apply them to your unique situation.

To conclude this series about active learning, I want to discuss how it is relevant to where we are going with the grading fixes. Very simply, active learning is formative assessment. It’s designed to give students time to process, practice, and review the material or skills as they’re learning. It’s also designed to give you immediate feedback about student progress so that you can choose how to proceed with your instruction. When I went to school, teachers would do formative assessment by asking a question and choosing one student (often the same student each time) to answer their question. This provided formative assessment for one student while neglecting the rest. With active learning, every student is required to engage in formative assessment, and if time and thought is put into the questions posed, these structures provide you with a template for creating excellent formative assessments. Quality formative assessments are essential to our grading fixes. While active learning is helpful in keeping students awake and engaged, it’s even more valuable as an assessment tool. I encourage you to continue to pursue incorporating active learning into your daily practice as a teacher!

Susan Allen

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