Sunday, April 5, 2009

Online Assignment #2 - Rachel Bergere

When I started this program and began my professional growth plan, I knew that I was going to have to find resources to help me best achieve my goals. I immediately began asking teachers at my school for resource ideas. I also revisited old workshop materials to see if additional resources had been suggested for us to read at a later date. I have found three that I have started reading and have even used some of the strategies and ideas in my own classroom and in my growth plans.

Classroom Based Assessment by Bonnie Campbell Hill, Cynthia Ruptic, and Lisa Norwick

One of the teachers at my school who used to work in many areas outside of the classroom, including as an advisor for student teachers through Seattle University, suggested the text Classroom Based Assessment. She has been teaching for over 20 years and said this book is invaluable to her. This book is useful not only for university students who are learning about assessment for the first time, but it is also helpful for classroom teachers who need to fine-tune their own assessment practices. Throughout the book there are chapters on how to assess and observe students in writing, reading, and other content areas. There are reproducible forms and continuums to use in the classroom. There are also descriptive suggestions for professional growth at the end of each chapter.

Setting Limits in the Classroom by Robert J. MacKenzie

I am reading this book as a part of my professional goal to improve my classroom management. It offers suggestions on how to improve the structure of the classroom, guidance for how to give logical consequences for behavior, solving problems with homework, and how to motivate students in a positive way. One practice that I read in this book was to start using a Friday “Preferred Activity Time” (PAT) to improve and lessen the time it takes for transitions. During this PAT they get to choose activities that they would like to do that involve “thinking and learning”. The students earn 20 minutes of PAT each week that they get to have on Friday afternoon. They can earn additional minutes for excellent behavior, transitions, or being on-task. During transitions they can lose seconds from their Friday PAT for taking too long, excessive talking, or being off-task. I have only started using this system, but it has seemed to work so far. The 6th graders love having a free choice time and work hard to get additional time for it.

This is a free web-based learning environment for teachers to use for conferencing with their students. It looks to have been set-up for secondary and post-secondary classes, but I think it would also work for 5th-8th graders. Teachers can create their own threaded topics and even have students post their own topics. There appears to be scheduling functions, link sharing, and personal messaging options as well. I was interested in having the ability to post topics that students could read and respond to, as well as read each others’ topics, and respond to them. I decided to use it for a class meeting last week and the students loved it. I posted the question: What do you like about our class? What gifts do you offer? The students enjoyed seeing their responses posted on the thread. It was a positive experience in our classroom. I also had access to all of the students’ responses and could actively monitor the students to ensure they were being appropriate and respectful. I look forward to exploring this resource more and seeing how I can using it for instruction and perhaps even a tool for assessment.


Natalie Bowers said...

Hi Rachel,
I feel like a broken record because I keep saying it, but I really, really need to work on the technology goal, and I can't wait to check out the online site you found. I spend a lot of time working with teachers on improving their efficiency in conferring, and this seems like it could be another resource to help in that.

Since you are reading Setting Limits in the Classroom, I gather that one of your goals is around classroom management, so I thought I'd recommend one more resource called Teaching with the Brain in Mind. This book isn't specifically about management, but it is about how young brains work and how to design content and lessons to cater to the physiological realities of student brains. I found this book to be invaluable; it help me improve both my instruction and my management.

J. Juliana Kirmeyer said...

Can I see "Classroom Based Assessment"? I tried to find a preview on amazon, but no luck. And it is not available through Seattle Public Library.

Your post and the reviews on indicate that it is very practical and well loved by teachers across the country. I really want to get a hold of a copy.

And, to add to your growing pile, my cornerstone classroom management book has been Fred Jones' "Tools for Teaching". He offers practical sense insight into how students think and how you should act. I have a copy if you would like to peruse it.

Katy Lungren said...

I love, love, love the idea about using a website, message thread, or blog to host class meetings! Throughout the past few year at my school, the student population has been struggling to make adequate academical growth. We did not meet AYP last year, and so our mandate this year is "reading, writing, math, and science - no 'wasted' time on anything else." This has made it really difficult to fit in the community building activities and character trait curriculum that I have presented in the past. I personally feel these lessons are essential for shaping students into quality, empathetic human beings and leaders. I had never thought about integrating technology into areas other than the traditional academics - but now I am inspired! This will be a great way to bring back the community building lessons in a way that does not take up a large amount of classroom instructional time. I cannot wait to start using this technology idea with my students!

~Katy Lungren