Tuesday, March 17, 2015

return to writing

I'm returning to the blog to post on two topics as they unfold in the coming weeks.

Topic #1: The state has asked that my high school be one of two to pilot a program to allow the school to "make up" snow days through the development of teacher-directed student work that students may complete at home on their own time.  This is being referred to as "Blizzard Bags," after the program that many other states have who are routinely stricken by snowy conditions that prevents students from attending classes. (Apparently my state, which is also routinely dealing with weather-related closings, is just now discovering this fact?) In those states, elementary students are presented with a literal bag that has numbered assignments in it.  On a day when there is no school, students reach into the bag and withdraw an assignment, and they hand it in when they return.  I'll be sharing what I and my department develops in the hopes that what we do might be useful for others as the program rolls out.

Topic #2: I and my co-teacher are conducting an experiment with our 9th grade inclusion-level US History class.  We are removing all devices from the classroom for a unit, and doing everything as though we were in the 20th Century--handouts, written notes, three-ring binders (sorry, no TrapperKeepers!) and assessments done on paper (quizzes, tests, essays, etc.).  We expect this unit (on the Civil War) to last between 3 and 4 weeks.  We will be showing videos, and using Google Presentation/ExplainEverything as our platform for lecturing, but we will not be sharing those items with the students.  We will then re-introduce devices for the next unit (Reconstruction and Westward Expansion). We will set up their digital notebooks explicitly and teach students the use of Notability, and how to structure their Google Drive Folders and use Google Classroom to distribute handouts.  Assessments will be run through Socrative, and all materials we create will be shared with the class.  We will use exactly the same assessments in both units to determine student learning, and to generate a comparison between the two styles of classroom. I'll be sharing our findings as we go along, and trying to provide an account of the various joys and frustrations of each unit as they unfold.

So if that doesn't get your pulse pounding, well...

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