I'd like to know what you are doing differently next year. Here is what I am working on:
I am changing the amount and depth of my homework. I currently ask critical thinking questions for each section straight from our newer textbook. I am modifying that to essential questions on themes with the expectation that they will provide students with a deeper understanding of the big issues instead of content specific questions.
I am modifying my cell phone policy to be more flexible. Too many students are playing "Words with Friends", instead of engaging with the materials. By the same token there will be days when we are using them. I think I have cheating on a test, but can't be sure.
I need to work on kids focusing on what we are doing. They aren't discipline problems, but they just aren't taking notes or working on what we are working on. I don't give out a lot of worksheets. I can't explain it. Engaging more kids may be the best way to explain it.
I'm thinking about doing a 2 or 3 column HW plan. As in: X# from A = lower # from B = even lower # from C (if there is a C). Column A would be less complex, more facts-and-recite style assignments. B & C would increase in complexity and creativity. For each unit, they would have lots of options to be done by the time of the quiz and/or test. It would certainly allow for differentiation, but would kids who have the ability opt for the more complex columns? I don't know. I'm working on it.
Right now, I've got two more class days before the state assessment for my students. Starting next year, 40% of my teacher eval will be based on the state assessment. Not merit pay (yet) but still a "composite score" that is mainly test driven. I'll think more about my HW plan in July, I guess.
I am working on a few things:
For my senior elective: The World since 1945: Current Events and their backstories, I am looking to bring in more guest lecturers via Skype--pooled from my former students who study abroad. Also, I want to podcast some lectures, so we can focus on the hands-on learning during class time.
For my AP US History class I am looking for alternative assessments, I know that prepping them for the exam is crucial, but there has to be alternatives to the multiple choice test and DBQs.
For my own knowledge in preparation for another year I will listen to a series of lectures from I-Tunes U. They are great for brushing up on a topic or learning something completely new. I need something to keep my mind busy when I am weeding my yard. :-)
I won't begin lesson planning until July, need to play with all of this new technology.
A few things that I am working on...
Thank you for a great reflection question. My first change would be to move all of my classes off the textbook and online with a variety of resources and Edmodo as a base. I want them to be empowered to create their own learn as I try to facilitate more and control less.
Connecting with other classes via Skype is another area I want to delve into. I know it will force my students to think more and prepare better for discussions.
There are a lot of great tech tools my students could use and I want to let them experiment with different ones to see what makes them excited about learning. Hopefully we will end up with a variety of great tech tools for all kinds of projects and activities.
Lastly, I want my students to create critical thinking debates and discussions as well as lead their own Socratic Seminars. At least in my AP classes to start but eventually all my classes. I guess the key is empowering them to take more control of their education.
This is a great question. I think my goals for next year are the following:
1) Do a better job of making my Government class engaging, with films/video clips, projects, simulations, and debates.
2) Interact with parents more and document this work. I am holding a mandatory parent meeting at the beginning of the year to inform them about my class and policies, explain graduation and college admissions requirements, and provide them with resources to help their kids succeed.
3) Integrate social media, videoconferencing, interactive white boards, and other ed tech into my curriculum.
4) Re-evaluate my homework policy. Our district recently decided that HW should be worth no more than 10% of a students' grade, so I will be revising my syllabus and grading policy.
5) Help students create the best yearbook. I wasn't a fan of it this year.
As a faculty, we're trying to start putting the content standard or learning target ON the assessment. For example, I'm redoing my tests so that the questions are grouped under the learning target instead of numerically. This way, students/parents can see what content they struggled in instead of a generic grade. I plan on putting that test grade in the gradebook, but on paper they will be able to see their breakdown. I think I'm going to keep a running daily grade out of ten points to show students progress on specific targets. For example, recording exit slip or pop quiz scores...
In KY we've been giving a new set of literacy standards that we will be teaching in Social Studies. I have a background in LA, so most of the new literacy standards are things that I already do. My plan is to not record grades for LA things like content and form. If I assign a letter, I will teach the students how to write a letter, assign a prewrite and work with LA teachers on editing and revising. BUT - their social studies grade for the assignment will be based on their grasp of the Social Studies learning target. I'm redoing all of my rubrics to focus on Learning Targets.
I've noticed over the years that it's too easy for students to slip through the year with a B or a C average in Social Studies without actually retaining any of the information. Most 8th graders can take a look at a rubric and figure out that they can make an acceptable grade on a project if they will write neatly, use color and follow the proper format - they've figured out that they don't have to actually think about the content to put together a poster/brochure/powerpoint that will get them a good grade. I've decided that color and neatness aren't going to be on my rubrics anymore. I'm going to hold THEM accountable for what I'M held accountable for :)
curious how this worked out... How are you listing your learning targets when there are multiple learning targets for a "unit"- like events leading up to civil war?
I will be working to create more of a partnership with students. I want them to share their work more publicly, not just with me. I also want to talk more about different types of writing for different audiences.
My personal goal is to provide more prompt feedback. I need to get papers back within a few days whenever possible.Keeping papers for more than a week is no good.
For my new senior elective - Modern Asia: China and India after 1945, I want to test out some new strategies. I want to add blogging, having that be a homework option most days. I am using ebook articles for the basic information, and more engaging personal works as the texts for the class. I am hoping to set up connections with people in China and India and communicate with them/ Skype. I am hoping to let student interest shape the course to some extent. I have some guideposts, but within those, I want to follow student interest, even allowing them to work on different things at the same time. I also want to try backchanneling in that course.
I am meeting with my Modern World History team next week, so we will be coming up with new strategies together for that core course.