Instructional Innovations

MCHS Newsletter: 16 September 2016

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September Instructional Challenge: Don't Be Skeered...

We've all been diligently setting our own instructional goals for this school year. Now it's time to teach our students how to do the same. Send me a lesson plan where you've included students participating in setting intentional learning targets,an email to come and observe you during this process, or any other form of evidence. Once I have your evidence, your name will go into the "Instructional Challenge" raffle.

All entries should be submitted by September 29th. The drawing will take place on the 30th.

This month's prize: $25 worth of items from Quill (need supplies?)

P.S. Have questions about leading students in goal setting? See the August 12 newsletter or call me (email me), maybe?

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Feeling the Formative Assessment

By now, we all should know that utilizing formative assessments in our classrooms (on a daily basis) creates a huge effect size (according to Hattie). Incorporating daily formative assessments is no longer a choice, it is a requirement. But how can we weave in formative assessments that are engaging and informative, not just a hoop for our students and us to jump through? This week, I've put some thought into how we might incorporate an array of formative assessments that are: 1) varied, 2) best inform instruction, and 3) engaging for all involved. I've compiled a "Top Ten" list of research-based formative assessments that you can use in your classroom tomorrow.

Top Ten Formative Assessments

1. My Favorite No

The teacher collects student responses (maybe from a ticket out the door) and asks the class to analyze her "favorite no." Many of you know about this one (especially you math folks), but I love, love, love this. It helps students develop a growth mindset while advancing learning. For many of our students, the best growth in learning lies in analyzing their own abilities (metacognition).

Resource: Watch this video to see exactly what the "My Favorite No" formative assessment entails.

2. Traffic Lights

This FA is simple to create and incorporate into any lesson. You can give students three pieces of laminated card stock: one red, one yellow, or one green. Students place the appropriate piece of colored paper to communicate their levels of understanding on any given topic. Green: I got this! Yellow: Help me a little! Red: I am sooo confused! I like the simplicity of this FA, and I like the visual cue that it provides to remind us to formatively assess often.

3. Two Roses and a Thorn (or as I like to refer to it: Every Rose Has Its Thorn)

Students name two interesting facts learned from a lesson and one idea or fact that they have a question about or want to explore more deeply (this is a good ticket out the door).

4. Concept Map Craziness

I know that many of us have a love/hate relationship with concept maps, but when they are used appropriately and often, they can help students see the goals in learning AND be a tool for formative assessments. As students walk out the door, have them place a small strip of sticky note with their name on it on an area of the map they feel they have mastered (they can use green), or one they feel as though they still need help with (they can use yellow). This is a twist on Traffic Lights. In the warm-up the next day, you can ask students to pose a question about whichever area of the concept map received the most marks (even the green).

5. Meta-thinking Task

As you transition in a lesson or right before students leave the classroom, ask them to reflect on a few questions:

  • What did we do?
  • How does this apply to what we are learning?
  • What did I learn and how well did I learn it?
  • How might I like to extend my learning?

6. Formative Technology Tools

Remember our PD session from last fall? Have you been using Socrative, Kahoot, PearDeck, or Padlet (check out the updates)? If you need a refresher, we'll be meeting later this month to discuss some of these tools and adding more.

7. Ryan Gosling Meme I totally made this up in my crazy head, but we all need a little fun. You know those Ryan Gosling memes (see below for an example)? Have students create their own meme based on this structure. For example, Hey girl, I love the way you got all rational by simplifying that radical by using perfect squares! Okay, you get what I meme (haha). You can also have kids create other memes that summarize or apply their learning. You can then post the best to help kids remember what they've learned. This is also a great way to expand on creativity.

8. Postcard (from the Edge)

Have a student pose as one historical figure or author to write a postcard to another historical figure or author. For example, Virginia Woolf to Don DeLillo: Dearest Don, I just read your latest postmodern book, I love the way you use stream of consciousness in your portrayal of the deconstruction of society. How very deconstructionalist of you! Come by and see me. I'll probably be in the river by my house collecting stones to put in my pockets. Sincerely, V. This activity lends itself to comparing events, etc. I am not smart enough to create a historical one, but I know you social studies weirdos are. :)

9. Movie Trailer Summary Skit

Have students quickly create/write a movie trailer on what they learned today. For example, (student in deep voice) "In a world where everyone wants the new Kanye sneakers, manufacturers carefully monitor their production to keep goods scarce! Kanye likes to be in high demand!! (Forgive me.)

Even cooler, check out this video example:

10. Entrance Ticket

Instead of an exit ticket, why not have students create an entrance ticket? For example, students can predict the answer to the lesson's EQ. Once the lesson is completed, the student can go back and clear up any earlier misconceptions. You will have clear evidence of a growth in learning.

*Most of these FAs where shamelessly borrowed from formal research (articles) and informal (teachers' heads).

Got An App for That? 2016 Version

Wednesday, Sep. 28th, 8am-3pm

Freshman Wing Computer Lab

Come and hang out during your planning period to learn more about online programs that will help you collect formative data for your classroom. Even if you came to this PD session last year, come again!! I will have some new ideas to share!

I will also run this on Thursday during planning periods. :)

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

The Smashing Pumpkins - Bullet with Butterfly Wings

Just Food for Thought...

Now that I'm in education and no longer an angsty teen, this song always makes me think of our kids--how many of them view school as a cage. I think we do a pretty good job of lessening our students' feelings of being "rats in a cage," but I often wonder what we might do even better--especially for our most disenfranchised students (this wonder varies on levels from the classroom to policy).
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Melissa Conway

Email me your favorite formative assessment idea from this week's newsletter! I'll leave a treat in your box.