Thursday, September 1, 2016

Make Your Observer Say "Wow!"

One of our main goals as a teacher is to teach our students and to assess their learning of what we teach them. A goal of our leaders is to see that we are doing exactly that and assess how well we are. Just as many of our students want to make a 100 on a test, we do too.  We want to make our observers say "Wow!". So what exactly are they looking for? Luckily, I have the inside scoop because I am married to one. Here's a few ideas... 

When your boss gives you a task, chances are nowadays they don't ask you to do it alone. They will form a team to get the job done. More minds will sometimes work better together. Why did I say sometimes? Group work can work, or it can fail miserably by becoming a time for your students to catch up on the gossip. We must first assign groups wisely. When our administrators assign groups, they may group subject teachers or grade level teachers together. Sometimes it may be a group of teacher leaders. The group depends on the job.  Think about the type of group that will work best for the activity, just as your admins do. If you are playing a review game, consider a tiered group with a leader. Try to arrange the groups so that one group does not have advantage over the other. If it's a differentiated assignment, you might want to group based on interest or ability. Just remember to manage your groups once assigned. Even as adults, it's difficult for some groups to stay on task.

© Sergey Khakimullin | - Team creative work 

On the flip side, if we make a lesson interesting and engaging, we won't have to worry so much about keeping our groups focused. The lesson will, and your students will manage themselves. Many administrators are looking to see your students interacting. Captivate your students' interest and be sure that they interact by making the topic relevant or by connecting it to a real world experience or phenomena. Instead of telling your students the steps of the scientific method and letting them practice writing them, present them with a real-life problem and let them think through a possible way to solve it.  

Involve as much problem solving as you can in your lessons. Encourage your students to discover, investigate, and inquire about topics. Let them do the work instead of you. Simply provide a question that connects to the content, let your students uncover the answer through research or experimentation, and VIOLA, they've got it! 

As they are working, be sure to facilitate the learning. Move around the room. Ask multiple and varied DOK questions. Use the language of your school or state standards and address it and the essential question multiple times during the lesson. 

© Monkey Business Images | - Schoolchildren and teacher in science class 

 Finally, we must make sure they've mastered the content by assessing for their understanding. Put on your creative cap and come up with different methods of assessing your students' learning. Use cut and paste worksheets (Significant Figures Cut and Paste Worksheet), mazes or puzzles (DNA Structure Maze WorksheetNaming Compounds Puzzle), task cards (Genetics Task Cards), station activities (Chemistry of Life Review Stations), card sorts (Macromolecules Card Sort), and so much more. A quiz doesn't always have to be multiple choice or fill in the blank. Mix it up!

No matter what strategies you use in your classroom, you're oberver is looking to see your students learning. These are just a few ideas to help your students do just that. Make your students learn...make your observer say "Wow!". 

How do you make you observer say "Wow!"?