Enhancing Engagement and Learning
Instructional Strategies & Resources
Zaption and YouTube
I also use unaltered YouTube videos in my class. I have recently begun using video read alouds of books in my classroom that I find on YouTube. I often do not have access to books I would like to use as mentor texts, and to remedy this problem I have turned to the internet to access them. I even use videos that are not books as texts. For instance, with the plot review lesson, I used Disney shorts as the story my students used to create and complete plot maps. While viewing a video cannot completely replace reading a text, I saw that my students, especially those who have trouble reading and comprehending, were able to present their understanding of the text easier since the video provided the audio and visual help needed for their learning styles.
Steps to Good Grammar
Beginning with lesson one, I gave my students the pretest and saw a need for more practice with helping verbs. The next day, we did the lesson in the book for helping verbs. We then began the drills, which only took us five to ten minutes to complete at the beginning of class each day. As we worked on the drills, I was a little worried about the effectiveness of the practices. My students' grades were all over the place, and many of them were very low and not improving. I continued to work through the drills, four total not counting the initial lesson practice, and arrived at the time to give the test. The result, my students had improved!
I believe these practices were successful in improving my students' grammar because some skills are just better mastered through repetition and practice, and I will continue to use the lessons; however, there is one thing I will change. Once my students have completed the pretest and we are moving on to the lesson practice, instead of completing the lesson straight from the book, I will take an entire class period to incorporate the lesson with an activity and practice. I will continue to do the drills the same by having students complete them within the first few minutes of class each day, and we will end the grammar unit with the test. I also plan to get Walberg-Schaefer's second book Understanding and Using Good Grammar, which includes more grammar skills than just the basic parts of speech.
The entire conversation took place on paper; no talking! The kids actually loved this aspect of the activity. The students answered the question on the paper, and they were able to make connections among each other's comments. What was interesting about having the students write out their discussion rather than speak it was to see students how the students represented their thoughts. Not only did they use words to express their thoughts and understanding, but they also used symbols and drawings.
Cooperative Learning: "You Can Quote Me on That"
The lyrics were hung around the room, enough for each student to have their own song. I did not tell the students they were looking at lyrics; they thought they were just quotes. After the students chose their lyrics, I had them use the Make a Date grouping strategy to share the reason why they chose the lyrics they chose. The strategy was interesting because students were drawn to the issues the songs presented rather than a specific genre of music. The students chose how they wanted to present the information. The following is an example project, a Prezi presentation by Bailey Swank:
The stations allowed the students to write multiple poems in a limited amount of time, which is exactly what I needed to accomplish. Once the students finished
Learning and Sharing Vocab Using ChatterPix
For this lesson, I exposed my students to the writing process terms through a Flocabulary video. My students love Flocabulary because the songs are interesting with beats and melodies that they actually enjoy. The videos aren't cheesy, which is often how many educational videos are perceived by my seventh graders. Although the site requires a fee for use of the videos and other resources, it is one I would certainly recommend.
- Traditional Reading to the Class- My students published poems by reading them to the class. To make this more interesting, I made the day a themed day of Coffee Shop Spoken Word, complete with hot chocolate, low lighting, and a spoken word spotlight.
Podcasts- I wanted to add some technology to our publishing, so I had the students record themselves reading their personal narratives using the Recorder app. They then shared them with the class in Google Classroom.
- Public Padlet- I wanted to keep the technology element but to also add feedback from a larger audience. I created a padlet where all of my students for all of my classes could post final drafts of their essays. Once everyone had posted, all of my students chose three essays to read and comment on.
Below are samples of the podcasts and a link to the padlet.