Helping students get organized
Middle schoolers’ lives are multi-faceted, dynamic and dramatic. And while we talk about how to grow self-directed, engaged and motivated students, that growth can’t take place while students are overwhelmed and anxious about managing their daily lives.
Last time, we looked at how to organize the tech itself. Now let’s look at how to use powerful tech tools (shiny!) to help make middle school manageable.
“Where did I put that cord? My computer is dead!”
How many times have you heard this in your classroom? So much of middle school is developing systems to stay organized: “How do I get to all these classes? How do I open my locker?” And with the addition of technology: “How do I keep track of my school computer? Which Google Doc is the homework in? ”
Let’s look at 4 ways students can learn independence and grow leadership through the care and organization of technology.
How student choice can support literacy
English teacher Laela Warnecke set out to answer one question: “How might sustained silent reading impact 8th graders?”
Warnecke examined the effect of sustained silent reading on the engagement and achievement of her students. She surveyed her students and helped them set aside time during the day to read whatever they wanted. And it turned out that her so-called “reluctant readers” weren’t all that reluctant after all.
This is a story about student choice, student engagement, and how action research can impact student outcomes.
A case study from one classroom
In part one, we explored how middle grade students are struggling to recognize fake news or sponsored posts and shared many tools for teachers looking to tackle this thorny issue.
But what does it really look like We sat down for a Q & A with Christie Nold, sixth grade educator and fighter of fake news.
Here’s her mini-unit on telling real from fake news.
Teaching news literacy in the social media age
We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the problem of fake news stories and how they might impact our impressions of the world. Imagine: if it’s hard for adults to spot fake news stories, then how hard is it for students?
Turns out: VERY HARD.
Let’s look at some resources for helping students determine when a source is truly credible or not.
Personalization for school-based service learning
Looking for a way to harness students’ energy while giving them meaningful work that appeals to their personal interests? One model for service learning I’ve used is iLead: a “job-based” program that channels student interest into meaningful positions around the school.
School community improves, students learn responsibility in a way that engages with their interests, everybody wins.
Here’s how it works.
This is Real World PBL
Now we’ve been down the PBL highway, looking at PBL planning, entry events, supports for PBL, culminating events, and technology tools. It’s time to examine at what PBL looks like when educators stop being polite and start getting real: this is PBL in real classrooms.
Let’s start with Courtney Elliott’s fourth and fifth grade class at Proctor Elementary School in Proctor, Vermont. Elliott’s first PBL unit was designed to teach students how to do PBL, while also addressing Next Generation Science Standards. She tiered her approach to build responsibility in the project and to provide supports on the way.
Honor scholars with an authentic audience for their work
The culminating event! It’s the lovely finish line of a Project-Based learning unit. The big event. You’ve been planning for months for this event that celebrates the projects and the learning in an authentic, community based forum. All along, it’s been a strong motivator for scholars, grounding the relevant work they’ve been doing.
So. What does it look like to pull off a memorable and meaningful culminating event for project-based learning?
Signs along the way
Assessments can be hard to create and manage, but they are a necessary part of PBL. You can do it!
Assessments are often done with the elements of Understanding by Design : beginning with the end in mind.
Here are some ideas for how to use assessment — both formative and summative — to report to families, inform your practice, and improve student learning.
It’s where the learning is
It is easy to not plan time for reflection in project-based learning (PBL) because there is just so much DOING! The students are engaged, and it’s fun and hands-on, and everything moves pretty quickly. But for PBL to connect to learning targets and goals and transferable skills, frequent reflection needs to happen, and as we all know, this has to be deliberately built into the schedule.
So, what can this look like? Here are 8 methods for reflection in project-based learning.