I don’t often get time in front of classes for a variety of reasons. But, it happened that this month when I sent out a lesson idea/extension activity to teachers about vetting sources, I also was beginning to plan my newest display case. I got a couple of colleagues who took me up on the offer to teach my proposed lesson/topic now or in the near future.
I couldn’t help but wonder: what other ways can I interact with students if I’m not directly in front of them?
Academic, every day, all day.
When I had a classroom, I made deliberate choices about what was on my roles, using it as an opening lesson about getting to know me as a teacher and the focus of our work in the coming year. It also served another purpose, thanks to the GLAD training I received a few years ago. Let’s face it, there are times when students aren’t paying attention to what the teacher or classmate is saying or they’re not focused on the task at hand.
When their eyes wander, what will they see? How can you make whatever is in the line of sight is always on point academically and connected to the learning that you expect to happen each and every day?
For me, that’s my display in the hallway, which they pass as they walk the hallways or gather during lunches in that space. What if I when I changed my display case, I made a concerted effort to connect it to the skills. I made a more tangible experience that teachers could advertise with their students and would help our students practice their research skills that are necessary for success with our ELA standards, and success on the Smarter Balanced exam? Yes, I promote reading, which is one of the biggest ways that we will see an increase in achievement. But, like my Humanities course, I never just had students read. They read to enjoy, I hope. But, they also read in order to learn a content or skill.
Why couldn’t my Display case promote reading and thoughtful practice of a skill sometimes?
Not only did the display window showcase a myriad of women to read about, but I put in a section of women with just an illustration, name, location and date. A quote supplied, in addition, on the worksheet. These were taken from Rad Women Worldwide by Kate Schatz and illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl. The questions facing students, as seen on the worksheet, is if they can figure out who these women are/were and why they are still important. And, where did they find their information and why do they trust their information.
Confession time. I love these type of projects and tasks, where little information is given to the student, but there is just enough to have students be successful and face a reasonable amount of struggle.womens-history-research-task
Motivation: Fun, Extra Tasks get Fun, Extra Prizes
I don’t have grades.
I don’t have parent calls home.
I don’t have negative consequences or even positive consequences.
I do have the ability to offer fun incentives to motivate students to do this extra piece of research. I am using the scratch tickets, like I did with the Diverse Books post, to motivate students. My scratch tickets are the Starbucks capturing of stars or game of Bingo, like this month, and the feeling of getting a prize can be a real motivator for students.
Double bonus is that if a student gives me MLA or APA citation, they can earn more than one entry into my drawing.
My reward is that I have students using the resources more often that our library provides for them. The more they interact with our books and databases, they more likely they will try them when facing a similar question based research. Rather than our good old buddy: Google.
My second reward is that I have had students practice with finding information, my help readily available as well to guide them, and I get a sense of how students from multiple population groups attack a question of curiosity. I also get a sense of how well our students can vet their sources, or what they consider to be the standards of vetting.
Ultimately, I need students to use the tools in a variety of ways and reasons. Because it is through that exposure that the students will begin to start with our resources in their academic work.
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