Monday, March 8, 2021

What Do the Kids Say?

I'm about halfway through reading the writing from yesterday's class. I have a list of what I'm noticing about learners' knowledge and skills in the back of my mind. I will use the list to make a couple of mini-lesson videos. 

In January, I taught four classes from quarantine (that's another story) and to plan for that I designed a series of activity "rotations." I call the activities "rotations" in quotes because learners don't move around the room. Covid.  Instead, learners switch activities or self-pace through them: a mini-lesson, close reading practice, a small group discussion, and language study (often a gamified review on GimKit). 

When I asked how the process was working for them, learners responded positively. They enjoy the rotations and asked that we continue them at least once a week, so I have.

When I asked for feedback, I use it. I feed it back to the kiddos the next class.  I talk to them about how their feedback informs instructional planning.  On this survey, I was glad to see that most of the kids were purple and green across each of the activities.--the colors represent the 4 and 5 of the likert scale I used.  One a few ranked things at level 2 (disliked) and no one selected a 1 (hated it!). Good news for planning purposes.

Here is a more detailed view of their responses over time: 

So, I have continued structuring our days with rotations. They are starting to shift though as learners need more time to practice and write prose analysis. Likely, it's time for me to ask the class, again, how the process is working for them. 

In the mean time, I'm about half-way through yesterday's formative analysis. I've got samples saved and ideas for the mini-lessons writers need. I'll keep thinking about what learners need today. I'll take that thinking into my PLC meeting this afternoon. And likely this evening, I'll get a lesson recorded and uploaded to YouTube.  We'll see how the day goes.  

I need to switch up the survey or try something different. Novelty sometimes yields different results.

I'm curious, how do you gather and use feedback from your leaners? 

The Slice of Life Story Challenge is hosted by the team at Two Writing Teachers
everyday in March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. 

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Feedback Ramble

 This is a bit of a ramble today. 

I've got  formative assessment and feedback on my mind this morning. I'm thinking too about a new-to-me learning management system (LMS) and last week's Forensics speeches. Also, a friend is out sick and another out for compassionate leave with family. I'm looking for homes for a litter of kittens I'm fostering. Things are competing for my attention. 

That is often the case with writers, isn't it? 

This morning writers in my class will analyze a passage from The Great Gatsby. They will write in class, on demand. It's a formative practice. Still, kids get nervous writing on demand. A lot competes for their attention as they try to do it: the characters, the weekend, the friend sitting next to them, Covid, the vocabulary in the book, our recent IASAS convention, the Myna bird on the classroom patio, how to use a colon correctly and "the hiccup" style of quote integration. 

I know the kids are cognitive jugglers. We all are--especially this year. 

On today's assessment, I will be looking to see if they can demonstrate close reading skills to analyze what Fitzgerald communicates about Gatsby's dream. It's a prompt that the English 10 PLC created before I joined the group.  My goal is to get feedback back to the kids by class time on Wednesday.  If I'm focused on the specific skills each learner needs when it comes to demonstrating close reading and analysis, I can be feedback efficient.  

I know that giving feedback to a class of 22 writers takes time. If I spend 8 minutes per learner, for example that's just under 3 hours. If I spend, 5 minutes per learner, that's just under 2 hours of time. The more classes of course, the more disciplined I have to be with my time and my focus. 

Definitely do-able. 

The Slice of Life Story Challenge is hosted by the team at Two Writing Teachers
everyday in March and on Tuesdays throughout the year. 

Friday, March 5, 2021

Celebrating the Arts this Saturday

IASAS Schools from left to right: Taipei American School, International School of Manila
International School of Kuala Lumpur, International School of Bangkok,
Singapore American School, and Jakarta International School. 

Our school is part of the Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asia Schools (IASAS). IASAS schools  host sports, cultural and other competitions throughout the school year. Pre-Covid IASAS teams travel to host schools for competitions and conventions. Now, of course, we do not.

There is no traveling now. This year marks our second virtual Cultural Convention. Through videos uploaded to a shared drive, teams from each member school showcased the arts: music, dance, drama, debate and forensics. The best part though was what happened on campus this year.

Our amazing athletic and activities director coordinated live performances for social distanced audiences on campus. We were able to sit in six-feet apart, every other row in our drama theatre and auditorium. 

Forensics speakers shared the stage with flautists and opera singers and violinists and dancers. Goosebumps, tears, laughter -- we got to experience audience feelings-- all of them yesterday, so good.


The convention continues for dance and drama today. One of my tenth-grade boys dances for the IASAS team--his performance, the way he articulates and moves across the stage with the team-- amazing! He reminds me of all I need to learn and know about the kids in my room in order to best reach and teach them. That's a story for another day. 

It was a gift and a privilege to be able to sit in the audience yesterday,  as a Forensics coach and as an arts lover. Fun too, winning silver and gold in Forensics.

The original oratory  (OO) team had speeches about death, about words and about ordinary pleasures and about names. Such talented writers and speakers. It is an honor to coach them. 

We are not allowed to post speeches online (yet?). Hearty congratulations to our OO logophile who took first in finals yesterday!   

Thanks to the team  from Two Writing Teachers 
for hosting the Slice of Life Story Challenge every day in March.