Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fabulous Find Friday Linky Party


Hey there! 

I have a new linky party for you to check out.  Fabulous Find Friday with Elizabeth from Fun in 4B.  Join in the fun.  I'd love to see what your fabulous find is!  It is always fun for me to see if I can find things here in Thailand that I have seen on blogs from other parts of the world.  I am super surprised that the pencil sharpener in my classroom is the exact one that everyone is raving about here.

Choosing my 'fabulous find' proved a bit difficult, as my classroom is packed and dismantled.  So, I thought what was the last thing I bought that I was excited about.  I can't say that my find is all that fabulous, but some of you may appreciate it! 

Post-it Tabs I found on sale at Kad Suan Kaew (Central)

TABS!  I love tabbing my teacher resource books.  Does anyone else do this?  (Yes, the tabs are color-coded to match the content!) I went to an Everyday Math Training in a previous district (when I taught in the US) and they had us tab our EDM Teacher's Guides.  I have been doing it ever since.  My only lament is that they don't have a blue tab!  I also included the tabs I bought to tab my tab my hanging files when I return to the classroom in August.  I really dislike the tabs that come with the file folders and look forward to using these as an excuse to rename and organize my files. 

While thinking about what kind of Fabulous Find I would write about I couldn't help to think about my First Steps resource books.  It is a resource out of Australia that is really fabulous.  Does anyone else use this resource?  If so, I would love to hear from you. I'll be training our teaching staff when we return in August. 

So, what is your fabulous find? 


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Improving The Quality of Student Work Through Reflection

 Dear Teaching Friends,

School's out and a lot of us can finally get back to blogging.  Yay!  I am looking forward to time spent blog-stalking.  Leave me a comment and I'll stop by your blog! 

Teaching Blog Traffic School
I just joined Teaching Blog Traffic School, have you?  It looks like a great way to connect with other teacher bloggers.  Have a look here at TBTS.

Summer goals...  do you have them?  Are they too many to count?  One of mine is organizing my teaching files on my computer.  How do you organize your files?  By year?  By grade taught?  By subject?  I have tried many different ways and now I need to consolidate.  In the process, I thought I could share some of the things I have made over the years that you might like to use with your students.

By now, you may have realized that I love rubrics and self-assessments. Is anyone else like me in this regard?  I like creating forms, using forms, manipulating forms and coupled with my love of assessment, means that I have a lot of those to share.   (Well after 16 years of teaching, I should have, shouldn't I?)  Here's one...

So, this is a rubric I used when I taught 1st grade, although it could be used for any grade.  My students were incredibly obsessed with being the first one done with assignments, sacrificing understanding and satisfaction of a job well done for timeliness.  Sound familiar?  So, to get the students to slow down, start thinking about, and evaluating their own work I would have them reflect on the quality their work and understanding, and highlight this rubric accordingly.  I would photocopy two rubrics per page, cut them in half and then after filling them out, the students would staple them to their work.  Then I would look it over and give my opinion, only after they had given theirs.

The Results
Children can be incredibly accurate and I always find it better to have students evaluate their own work first.  Students learned quickly that I valued quality or quantity, that they could let me know they didn't understand something, and that honestly looking at their work helped them to know what they needed to do better.  I firmly believe in having high expectations for students and that it is okay to help them see when their work could be improved. 

Work was collected for the week and then evaluated on Friday morning when the students would sort through their work and reflect on the quality of it.  They sorted their work into two piles.  One pile for Portfolio Worthy work and one pile to go in their Friday Take Home folder.  I had a set of cubbies (see the photo above) and I assigned one to each student. The Friday Take Home folders also remained here. The cubby held finished work.  Unfinished work stayed in a color-coded folder for each subject in their desk.  One aspect that I really liked is that I never had to worry about no-name papers and at any time and I could look over what each student had completed that day or that week at any time without rummaging through their desks.  However, most importantly, I saw a difference in the quality of work and thinking that went into their assignments. 

Changing Times - Sustainability
It is funny to think how times have changed over the years.  I now am very conscientious about the amount of paper I use.  If I were to do this again, I might have one copy laminated for each student and taped on their desk to refer to as they evaluate their assignments. 

Can any of you use this?  Do any of you do something similar?  I'd love to hear from you.