This Month in Classrooms

Here is my second edition of “This Month in Classrooms.” I hope this can provide some insight into the great teaching I see and also give anyone ideas they could implement in their own classroom.

I started this month with an opportunity of walking classes with an education consultant, Kelly Harmon. She focuses her work around learning targets and success criteria and so it was really interesting to understand more of how I can help teachers write these to achieve higher levels of cognitive learning. In math, it was cool to see that a lot of teachers already have success criteria on their notes by providing students with steps for accuracy and understanding. This will help teachers understand that learning targets and success criteria are not new, but rather we can be amping up our “we will” statements to synthesize and process learning. Furthermore, walking with her really helped me differentiate classrooms that had high levels of engagement and debrief how and why they were like that. She told me a huge nugget of information that to reach knowledge utilization (the highest level of rigor on Marzano’s taxonomy) and produce this engagement we must be asking our students to first hypothesize and then prove their learning. Math lends to this well, but we have to be willing to let go and ask our students, “what do you think and why” before simply telling them what to do. Our learning targets and success criteria should reflect the thought process we want our students to do to achieve high levels of thinking with cognitive complexity and student autonomy.

At another campus in Algebra I, I loved this strategy of allowing students to present their work and their thinking by passing the microphone to students and projecting their calculator to the Smart Board projector. It was so cool hearing students explain their thinking and walk through their process in their own words. The teacher later told me how happy she was to hear that students were working the problems in ways that she hadn’t even explicitly taught them.

I really liked this simple, low prep review game I saw in another class this month. Students completed a traditional review in pairs, but were asked to stop and check every 2 problems. If they got both correct, they got to fill in their initials in one spot of 1-100. At the end, the teacher would randomly draw a couple numbers and that pair would win a prize. I liked that there was immediate feedback of accuracy rather than having students check their answers at the very end. Also, students were motivated to do as many problems as they could to have a better chance of winning.

In a calculus classroom, I saw some amazing projects about volume cross sections. The attention to detail and creativity on these were impressive!

Lastly, I was super excited to see an idea I had shared with a campus last year being implemented this year: entry cards. I love this because every student is asked a question before entering the room. It can serve as a refresher or a preview, and it is something different and more engaging than a traditional warm up. Furthermore, it gives the teacher an idea of where their students are as they are coming into class and providing an opportunity to address misconceptions in an authentic, immediate way.

Thanks to all the teachers who let me visit their classes and see the great things ya’ll are doing!