Monday, July 4, 2016

Takeaways from Orlando

I just came back from a great trip to Orlando. My school sent me to the SDE conference there for 4 days. During this trip I had several firsts.

1.    It was my FIRST plane ride.

2.   It was the FIRST time traveling without my husband.

3.   It was my FIRST conference.

4.  It was my FIRST time in Orlando.

If you have been following me on Instagram, you probably saw all the neat photos I took. The airplane ride was amazing, as we drove through the clouds I could really tell the different types of clouds I had taught my third graders several years ago. I took some photos of each cloud type I could identify for third grade teachers at my school to use.

While the conference was going on, I was learning and networking with teachers from all over the world. It was fantastic to get revved up for the next school year. I want to share with you some of the takeaways I had from the different sessions.

Takeaway Numero Uno! There is no need for children to be making straight A’s all the time.

Students should be challenged. That’s goes without saying. If students are flying through work and getting it done accurately, then students need to go deeper. The experiences they have in the classroom shouldn’t be so hard they get frustrated, however, they should be expected to aim high. Besides, if students are being pushed, that means they aren’t going to get off task or distract others.

This also allows for students to learn perseverance. Students in today’s world get information automatically. They open a device and the information is literally at their fingertips. They have the instant gratification factor, and sometimes it is good to allow them to fail or struggle so that they can become better citizens.

Takeaway Number Two: Get your centers working for you!

Centers are very hot in education right now. You can have kids working on several skills in an hour, while you are working on guided reading with a small group. It’s amazing how teachers are using that time as just a time for keeping kids occupied and quiet. This should be a time for getting kids practicing something that has been taught. The work from the centers should not be thrown away or necessarily taken for a grade, instead, use them as informal assessments. Sort them into stacks of “Advanced,” “Proficient,” “Basic,” and “Below Basic.” This gives you an idea of where students are on a task. If you track them with a recording sheet, you can see if students are being consistent with their work.

Takeaway Number Three: Check your questioning methods.

Are you asking questions like this??

Teach your children how to know what you are expecting when asking a question. This will help with your blurters! There are four ways you are going to ask questions in your room. You are going to ask them to shout out the answers, you might want them to raise hands, you might want to choose a students to speak, or you might want to see what everyone knows. Dedra Strafford had this great idea! Announce the type of question first.

Example, “Class. What is the capital of Tennessee?” Students know because you stated class that you are expecting everyone to just shout out the answer.

“Hands.” Would mean that you want to see raised hands.

“Think.” This means that you want children to think about their answer, and you will be choosing someone. You can choose off the top of your head, by using equity sticks, or using the Pick Me! App.

“Show.” This will mean that you want kids to write on their personal whiteboard or paper, and you will be going around to check where the kids are.

The most important thing is to give kids wait time. Not all kids are going to be able to think as quickly as others. Here is another tip Dedra had, in your head, “1, 2, 3, 4 now I’ve waited, I should wait some more!” That should give kids enough time to process the question and be ready!
Want some posters for your classroom to help keep this on the mind? Click the image below to download!

Takeaway Number Four: Think about the daily structure of your lesson.

Students learn best at the beginning of the lesson. If you are asking a lot of background questions first to determine where the kids are, then students are going to remember the background information rather than the lesson itself. Also, if you had down time, and then you get their attention, why waste that valuable time on taking attendance? Instead, get them started in a lesson, and then do attendance during a lull.

Many teachers teach the lesson first, then at the end allow for partner discussion and work. Instead, break that up into the earlier parts of the lesson. This allows for the social interaction to engage children and to embed the information inside their brains more. Plus chunking the lesson allows for students to break down the information and process the information. They need a break from that for a minute for per year, and journaling, partner work, or brain breaks work for that. Then they can get back to work without fidgeting and fuss!

Did you go to the SDE Conference? Do you have any ideas on how to make your day smoother? Leave a comment below!



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