Written by Heath Kelley with support from Jesse Halweg and Denise Lee
Recently, Jesse Halweg has been using an app called Plickers to collect real-time student formative assessment data. Plickers is easy to use and requires only the teacher computer and an iPad/Android device. First, each student is given a card. The card can be turned by the student to indicate four different answers (A, B, C, or D). After the teacher projects a multiple choice question, the students hold up their cards indicating their answers.
Next, the teacher holds up their iPad or mobile device (Android or IOS) and scans the room. The app collects information from each card in what is essentially a qr code from each student. The data is collected and organized to indicate how students responded, while remaining anonymous (unless the teacher decides to reveal). The results show the teacher overall trends in order to make more informed instructional decisions.
Below is a video taken by Denise Lee of Jesse Halweg in action with 6th grade students:
Plickers is a great student response option if a classroom does not have student devices available or if the teacher does not want students wasting time logging into their devices. Everything (app, cards, etc.) is free. The cards can be laminated or printed on cardstock for students to reuse. Another added benefit, is the fact that the answers remain anonymous to peers due to the uniqueness of each code.
If you are interested in learning more about how to use Plickers in the classroom, here is a link to a few videos Denise Lee has collected that may get you started. You may also want to simply go to plickers.com and begin exploring.
How about you? Have you had an experience with Plickers or other student response systems?
Written by Sarah Nowack and Alyssa Halweg, DMS 5th Grade Teachers
At the beginning of December, we were fortunate enough to attend a conference on Standards Based Grading where Rick Wormeli was the speaker. Rick Wormeli was one of the first Nationally Board Certified teachers in United States, continues to be a practicing middle level educator, a national educational consultant, and author of books such as Fair Isn’t Always Equal and Meet Me in the Middle. Rick is a dynamic, engaging, entertaining speaker and we left the conference with our heads spinning with information.
We’d like to share a few key take-aways with you (feel free to ask us questions if you’re interested):
Mr. Wormeli even signed his book that was given to us titled
Fair Isn't Always Equal
There is a lot to think about when considering standards based grading, but Wormeli certainly provided clarity for us and we’re excited to continue learning about this alternative method of communicating student learning.
~Alyssa Halweg & Sarah Nowack
Written by Sarah Nowack, DMS 5th Grade Teacher
I just finished reading a book that I want to tell you all about. To be fair, it is really a parenting book, but anyone that works with pre-teens/teens should really read it! With an original copyright of 1981 (yikes, I wasn’t even yet a teen), it isn’t a new book, but the information is still very relevant (maybe some of you have already read this?): How to Really Love your Teen by Dr. Ross Campbell, MD.
Dr. Campbell’s writing is very easy to read; it feels as though you are having a casual conversation with him about your respective children.
Why should you read this book? Well, while we are teachers of these children, not their parents, we do spend 8 hours a day with them, and we all know that if a child feels safe and cared for (loved) he/she is much more open to learning (and willing to work for us). According to Dr. Campbell, evidence indicates that the home has the strongest influence in determining how happy, secure, & stable a child is. Since we know that many of our DMS students have “rough” home lives, it may be up to us to provide the loving structure and support that they need.
A first thought: teens are children in transition. They are not yet adults, yet we tend to treat them like junior adults; they are still children. Despite their apathetic attitudes, obnoxious behaviors, and tendencies to push adults away, teens have very childlike needs such as feeling loved and accepted, being taken care of, and knowing- with certainty- that someone really cares for them.
We (me especially) need to give students “focused attention.” Often we are doing three things at one time; yet when a student wants to tell you something, listen- REALLY LISTEN. Give them eye contact, stop what you were doing, and give them your focused attention.
Dr. Campbell also addresses teenage anger. Anger is normal for everyone; the problem lies in how to manage and deal with anger. Our kids don’t instinctively know how to solve algebraic expressions or write well-constructed informational reports- we teach them. So guess what? Teens need to be taught how to understand their anger and then how to manage it and express.
Chapter 9 could be the most important for us as educators: Adolescent Depression. There are many levels of severity of depression, but we need to learn to recognize the array of symptoms, which alone do not indicate depression, but combined could be a sign of a child who is truly suffering. Shortened attention span, daydreaming, poor grades, boredom, somatic depression, and withdrawal are all signs of mild to increasing depression in adolescents.
While the topic of depression is pretty heavy, the book, How to Really Love Your Teen, is an easy read that is an excellent resource for all teachers of pre-teens/teens. I highly suggest it!
I am willing to loan out my copy; let me know if you would like to borrow it.
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