August 1

Assessing and Gathering Data #BacktoSchool #LaEdChat

Demonstrating a deep understanding of content can be done in creative ways. Screencast videos using free sites like Screencast-O-Matic or Screencastify can be a great gauge of understanding and a useful resource for future learners as part of a class library. Instead of pencil and paper tests, your students can complete online ClassFlow drag and drop and matching activities. Using Piktochart or Google Drawings,  infographics or as Comix strips, scholars can demonstrate their mastery of the lesson.  Let them blog it out and have their thoughts expressed in multimedia blog posts using Edublogs.

I Gather my Data via ClassFlow.com. Classflow allows me to deliver an assessment and see the results immediately. I display the red or green results and we discuss as a class our strengths and weaknesses.  As a teacher, you can get a great snapshot of what’s going on in the room via these reports.

There are so many engaging ways that your scholars can show you what they know. We constantly need to assess, formatively and summatively. Let’s find some fun and interesting ways to do this.

Kahoot.com is another is a way to gamify your assessments and allow the students to interactively participate. The students are able to click a button to answer a question

Plickers.com is another website that allows you to create quick assessments formative assessments to is a quick a formative assessment tool Flickr requires that each of your students have an individual answer card that is coded only to them and they answer bye.

RAFT writing  – Students become the character as they utilize this writing strategy, Once they understand their roles as writers, the audience they will address, the varied formats for writing, and the topic it’s fun to have them blog as water droplets, cell membranes or scientists on the brink of discovery. ie: Role – your school’s technology coordinator  Audience – parents, students and teachers Format –  infographic for school newspaper Topic – stay safe on the Internet or Role – a drop of water; Audience – a meteorologist; Format – a magazine cover; Topic –  my journey around the world.

Crossword puzzles – Students create their own crossword puzzles using current class content as their inspiration. Discovery has a puzzlemaker that allows them to create and then print out their puzzles or they can create an online crossword puzzle by creating a ClassFlow activity and sharing it with the class.

Displays / Exhibits – Students research topics and creatively displays findings as an exhibit. ie: History exhibit – Immigrants built a new life in an unfamiliar land, enriching the local culture. Science exhibit – Famous Scientists, Inventors, Artists, and Leaders are highlighted. Math exhibit – Everyday life examples of Algebra or Geometry are examined.

Graphic Essays – Students can create a mosaic for the chapter or unit they are studying. Instead of writing a 500 word essay, students can be charged with collecting (or creating) 5 images and creating a poster with the images and text quotes. They can present the essay and defend their choices in writing or orally.

Online Quizzes or Games – Students become game creators using class content. Give them question stems to model their questions after and let them have fun using ClassFlow,  Quizlet, Socrative or Kahoot.

Infographics – Students make a visual image such as a chart or diagram that represents information or data. A good infographic is worth a thousand words and many students prefer the creative freedom. Piktochart or Google Drawings allows them to create graphics that teach.

Back Channels – Students take part in or drive a chatroom-style discussion allowing you to gather information and assess in a noninvasive way. Have them submit quick responses or compile a list of related resources onto a Padlet or in a TodaysMeet chatroom.

Create Comic Strips  – Students create a sequence of drawings in boxes that tell a story. Imagine them creating comics that allow them to visualize ideas, create discussions between historical characters, and provide the real-life setting for a math problem. Using MakeBeliefsComix, Toondoo, or Pixton allow your scholars to sketch out a scene.

 

 

 

August 1

#LaEdChat #BacktoSchool Twitter Chat August 1st

TWITTER is the best professional development tool ever. It allows you to attend PD in your pajamas from the comfort of your own home. There is so much power behind a micro-blogpost of 140 characters and it has been a game changer for me. Have conversations and get resources from like-minded individuals. Network with others in a way that transcends walls. 24/7 participation in 140 characters or less.  That means quick sound bytes that you can take and use.

Here is a Tweet broken down

  1.  Tweets – text-based messages of up to 140 characters
  2.  Twitter handle – chosen Twitter name for your Twitter Profile
  3.  #Hashtag – (#) is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. is a word or phrase preceded by a “#” that allows you to gather tweets about a specific topic.
  4.   Twitter content – can include text, images, videos and links within the text
  5.   Reply—when you directly respond to a specific user beginning with their username
  6.   RT—retweet = is a tweet posted by someone else that you share with all of your Twitter followers.
  7.   Like – way to designate that you like a tweet
  8.   Analytics – what interaction did the tweet produce
  9. Reply interaction – replies to the tweet

A Twitter chat is a group of Twitter users who meet at a pre-determined time to discuss a certain topic, using a designated hashtag (#) for each tweet contributed. A  moderator poses questions (designated with Q1, Q2…) to prompt responses from participants (who respond with A1, A2…)  Chats typically last an hour.

To start, respond to the moderator’s question (“Q1”) with a response (“A1”). If you don’t know what to say, it is acceptable to stay silent and lurk. But as you read posts, it’s a better idea to retweet the ideas that you agree with and like the ones that you want to check out later. The chat is a chance to connect and not a test that requires an answer.

Lurking in life gets you arrested while lurking on social media gets you resources. During a Twitter chat, lurking allows you to become familiar with the process. To keep track of the action, I use TweetDeck. I can easily track, schedule and respond.

I am the moderator for tonight’s #LaEdChat and here are my questions for tonight’s chat with links to some of my responses.

  1. What Back to School activities do you assign to get to know your scholars?
  2. What are your best organization tips and/or hacks?
  3. How do you engage your students so that they want to complete the work?
  4. What are your classroom management “must haves”?
  5. How do you effectively communicate with your parents?
  6. What methods do you use to assess and gather data for your classroom?
  7. Is there anything else that you’d like to share to help us get ready for the new year.

August 1

Classroom Management Must Haves #BacktoSchool

Build a Rapport With Your Students

Contrary to popular belief, teachers who develop positive working relationships with their students do not do so by magic. I’ve found that developing a good rapport with students takes strategic planning. My formula:

  1. Establish rules with your students to create a class community.
  2. Be stern yet caring.
  3. Clearly communicate expectations to your students on day one.

Forming Class Rules is one part of the process of conveying clear expectations to students, which is critical for creating a productive learning environment. Other areas that need to be addressed within the first week of school:

  • Giving students a list of materials that will be needed daily (binder, pens, pencils, folders, etc.)
  • Communicating the methods that will be used to assess their work (i.e. rubrics).
  • Providing visual examples of what is considered “presentable work” and what is considered “unacceptable work.”

Management Paperwork

  1. Notebooks or participation sheets – students need to be held responsible for their work and having them document class assignments and their performance is a way of doing this
  2. Seating charts – in the working world, work is completed with the interaction of others
  3. Intervention sheets – students who are in danger of failing need to complete an intervention sheet that states how they will bring up grades.
  4. Online tracking – Google Docs and Forms allow you to track behavior, and attendance

Atmosphere

  1. Soften the Lights
  2. Reduce Clutter – Use crates and baskets for those things you want out of sight but handy when needed.
  3. Post your time – When planning your lessons, chunk your agenda/activities and post the anticipated time to make sure you use every minute.
  4. Music to calm the savage beasts
  5. Classroom Helpers / Leadership Team – Assign tasks to students so that they can take ownership in the class. They can position equipment, connect the projection device, distribute/collect papers, take attendance, distribute/gather resources,
  6. Transition cue – Sounding a small bell or chime can bring the class to order much more effectively than trying to talk over the noise.
  7. Time for Talking – because they are social, allow a few minutes and have quick “chat breaks”
  8. Mini Dance Party – be brave and use music to lighten up the mood with a One-Minute Dance Party. Play fast dance music and at the end of the minute (or song), it’s back to business.

 

 

August 1

Connecting with Parents #BacktoSchool

Parents are the backbone of our students’ lives and we must connect with them to guarantee student success.

 

You can communicate with your parents via social media or a classroom blog.

  • via social media
  • classroom blog.
  • parent reports via ClassDojo and ClassFlow moments.
  • digital newsletters via Smore.com  
  • periodic student portfolios with checklists and links to student artifacts and have a parent write comments as a way to get the parents into the lesson.
  • Google Hangout office hours
  • email newsletter
  • positive phone calls home

 

August 1

Engaging your students #BacktoSchool

Have you ever let your students create movies?

To engage means sooo many different things. Having students participate in a discussion online or face to face is engagement.  Having students create poetry from an assigned text is engagement. Having students compose a playlist for a historical figure is engagement.

Classflow.com
With Classflow.com, you can create interactive lessons that allow you to instantly engage your students in your lessons. Classflow.com has the flexibility to allow you to create multiple choice assessments, short answer assessments, or creative response assessments. Easily create activities that require the students to sort events or items, match items, study with flash cards, etc. Within classflow, you have the opportunity to get your students’ immediate feedback so that you can adjust your lessons accordingly.

BackChannels 
Creating an environment that allows students to interact with one another and with you is also a great way to get engagement you via TodaysMeet.com or any other platform that allows students to share verbally or hey in text their ideas and opinions. Padlet.com is another easy free website that you can use to have your students check in with you and become a part of the lesson instead of just receiving the lesson.

Photographs are a great way of stimulating discussion and interest in your subject matter. Have students put them in sequential order, create a paperslide video or respond to them in writing.

Creating interesting assignments is another way to engage your students. It is not necessary to have a student write an essay they can now create a web page or a digital movie they can record themselves interviewing one another. The artifacts that your students can create is unlimited and basically up to you.

Creative Student Products
Students often enjoy veering from the ordinary and creating interesting useful artifacts. When you need to know what they know, have them create

  • Gist statements, tweets or hashtags
  • Jigsaw assignments to tackle a new unit with each team researching a different concept
  • Orally explaining a PowerPoint Summary  
  • 4×4 summary – they compose 4 four word sentences
  • A class dictionary of terms or concepts
  • Memes and gifs
  • PaperSlide Videos
  • Smore Posters
  • Blogposts  
  • RAFT writing
  • Graphic Essays
  • 60 second recap
  • Digital Stories  
  • Interactive Images  
  • Podcasts  
  • WordArt  
  • PSA Poster
  • Wikipage
  • Poems

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August 1

Organization Tips and Hacks #BacktoSchool

My most important tool is my cellphone

Your cellphone can be a connection to… everything. It’s not just for selfies, talking to friends and texting family members. I have my apps organized into folders so that they are easy to navigate. If I forget to post to my assignment blog, I have the ability to pull up the app in my

If I forget to post to my assignment blog, I have the ability to pull up the app in the Work Station folder on my phone and post as I walk towards my room. But before I post it, I grab a bitmoji image or create a word swag picture from my Pics folder to insert into the blog. When my scholars do something awesome, I open up my Social Me folder and post a picture on Instagram. A coworker needs access to something I have in Google Drive, my app in the Work Station folder lets me quickly send out a link.

 

COPY your class rosters!
Make copies of your class roster at the beginning of the year. You’ll need them for so many things — quick classroom games, a reference for substitutes, notes on behavior during an assembly, or field trip checklists. If your schedule changes like mine often does, you’ll need to make weekly copies of your schedule.  Sometimes a paper trail is necessary because the digital ones disappear.

Address Stickers
Tag everything  — scissors, shelves, books, rulers, staplers, pens, pencils, chairs, desks, notebooks, etc. — a return-address sticker lets you quickly create labels.

Track Your Time
How much of your day is used productively? Track where you spend your time.  For a few days, keep a log of your daily schedule. Be sure to note how long you take to accomplish your daily tasks. Identify your “time robbers” and create more efficient ways for tackling some of your work.

Velcro what you can
Use Velcro squares or dots to attach posters and student work to the walls. Attach velcro in the same spots on every poster (six inches from the center on both sides) and it becomes a breeze to put up and take down posters and work.

Google it….
Google Drive lets you create and share youe work online and access them from anywhere.

Check out garage sales and REUSE …
Baskets, containers, shelves, bags, boxes, canisters, jars, metal lunchboxes, old suitcases, racks, tins, trays, etc. They can be great containers for …. pens, pencils, markers, paper, binder clips, staples, rulers, glue sticks, etc.

 

August 1

Getting to know you activities #BacktoSchool

Yes, it’s time to go back to school. Yes, it’s time to implement your routines, discuss this year’s curriculum and lay down the law so that this year is a smooth running one.

It’s important to me to create a supportive class climate, so I begin the year with fun ways to get to know my kids.  Many teachers prefer to begin with classroom rules and instructions. I feel that it’s more important to get to know my students; their strengths, weaknesses, quirks, etc.

Last year my students created autobiographical slides (I found out about them), a marshmallow statue (I saw how well they worked with others to solve a difficult problem) and images that someone else had to recreate (I had a chance to judge their descriptive writing abilities).

Below are activities that you can try out with your scholars. 

Hands-In
Have students create a bulleted list of 25 words that describe them and the things they like. They then need to trace their hands and begin to write their words around it in a variety of different colored pencils or markers. Have them cut out their outlines so that you can mount and display the hands.

Student Dictionary Directory
Create a dictionary and not the standard index card with their vitals. Create an interview template and have students interview one another. Students then use the interview responses to write a “dictionary definition” of his or her partner. For example:

Burton, Valerie. noun. 1. Teacher. 2. Born in Chicago, Il. 3. One brother and two children. 4. Lover of french fries.

4 Facts and a Fib 
Start it off by letting your students know that you are going to tell them five things about yourself. Four of the statements should be factual statements and one of the five statements is a total fib. The students have to guess which is statement is the fib.  Next, the students take up the challenge and create their own list of five statements — four facts and one fib and the guessing game continues.

House of Cards
Arrange students into groups of three or four. Give each group a deck of cards. Explain that each group will use the cards to build a house using the supplies you give them – tape, glue, staples, and so on.  They can decide to enter their house in any one of three contests: the Biggest House Contest, the Strongest House Contest, or the Most Creative House Contest. Students are not allowed to talk during this process! Set a time limit for the activity, and set a timer to ensure that groups are constantly aware of the time remaining. After the houses are built, each group gets to share their house and how they learned to communicate.

Treasure Hunt 
Plan a treasure hunt to familiarize students with your classroom. Create a list of essential classroom items and resources and have the students search the classroom for those items. They will learn where to find the dictionaries, glue sticks, papers, graphic organizers, and so on.

Introduction Cards 
Provide each student with a 4- x 5-inch index card. Have them write their first and last names in the middle of the card. In each corner of the card have students write about themselves. For example:

  • Top Left Corner: Number of brothers and sisters
  • Top Right Corner: Favorite style of music or favorite music group or musician
  • Bottom Left Corner: Favorite movie
  • Bottom Right Corner: Dream vacation (country or city)

When the cards are completed, have students partner with a classmate they do not know. The students trade cards and read what their partner has written. For the next 4 minutes, they interview each other about the listed topics. One student plays the role of interviewer for 2 minutes and then the students switch roles and the interviewer becomes interviewee.

Apply for the Job
Post a list of classroom jobs and have the students create job applications. Sample jobs: pencil sharpener; monitors for windows, closets, supplies, plants, library, and chalkboard; messengers, etc.  Let them check their job preferences and include a space where they can share any work experience they may have (at home and other places).

10 down to 1
Have students number two sheets of paper from 1 to 10. On the first sheet, students must write ten unique things about themselves. Students pair up with another student in the class. On the other sheet of paper, each student must write his or her partner’s name next to the number 1. Then students share one of the ten unique things on their lists as their partners record the unique fact next to the student’s name. As students share a fact about themselves, they cross off that fact on their lists. The students then pair up with somebody new and  repeat the activity by sharing one of the remaining nine facts. After they have paired with ten of their classmates, they should have crossed off all ten of the unique things on their personal lists and have another sheet with the names of ten of their classmates and a fact about each of them. Then give each student an opportunity to sit in a large chair at the head of the class as ten of their classmates share a different unique fact about the student.

Class Quilt
For this activity, each student will decorate a quilt square with interesting bio facts. For example:

  • What are three things you are good at?
  • What are your greatest strengths?
  • What do you like most about your family?
  • What do your friends like about you?
  • How can you help shape the future?
  • What do you think you can do better than almost anyone else your age?
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?
  • What is something you have already done that makes you feel really good?
  • What is one thing you are planning to change about yourself so you will be even better?

Kids, Follow Me!
All students start this activity in a seated position. Then give instructions for students to follow:

  • If you traveled this summer, stand up.
  • If you have a brother, sit down.
  • If you are the youngest of all the children in your family, stand up.
  • If you own a pet, sit down.
  • If you have a sister, stand up.
  • If your family owns a computer, sit down.
  • If you live in an apartment, stand up.
  • If this is your first year in this school, sit down.
  • If you are in ____ grade, stand up. (Fill in the blank with your grade; all students will stand.)
  • If you were kissed by someone this morning, sit down.
June 14

LACUE Technology Leadership Summit

We spend class time giving our students the tools to be able to annotate passages, decode vocabulary and analyze text on a variety of levels. Now it’s time to allow them to show what they know by creating memes, digital stories, images, blogs, and posters.Teachers attending this session will learn how to incorporate literacy strategies, activities and alternative assessment opportunities that support student creativity into lesson plans.

 

Today’s Agenda

ClassFlow Lesson re: The Real Humpty Dumpty Story 

Esplore creative ways to assess
1. memes
2. gist statements
3. hashtags
4. Videos
5.  BlackOut Poems

Here are my presentation slides.

Tech tools and Assignments that Demonstrate Learning

Have your students create BlackOut Poems in response to text.

Or create Videos to demonstrate their knowledge.

April 25

#UnleashingLiteracy with #EngagingActivities

#UnleashingLiteracy with #EngagingActivities

#BlogAMonth Topic

Our Scholars need to create and not just test. Bubbling in is not the best way to assess all students. We are not all made equally and we do not all test equally. This month’s blog topic: How do you internally measure success (beyond that of test scores)?

It is nearing the end of the year and whether you are on the end or beginning of the testing cycle, I know that they are tired and  you are tired.

Your scholars are tired of the drill and kill and you are tired of drilling and killing. I propose that you instead assign them movies, memes, poems, and websites that allow you to assess their knowledge while they display their creativity.

Below are more than 50 alternative assessments that will mix up the normal bland test and allow your scholars to create something. My focus is on literacy activities but these assignments can be adapted to fit any content. Yes, math, science, and social study teachers can create role driven assignments that require students to create artifacts that demonstrate their understanding of your current unit.  Meaning, if you teach math, you can change up the topic so that the objective is to create an artifact (meme, video, blog post, timelime, IG post, hashtag, webpage, etc.) that explains the order of operations.  Assign them the role of .. parenthesis, multiplication, division, etc. and they will need to create an artifact that shows their content knowledge.

These activities are in alpha order. I have linked up student examples or related blog posts to some of them.

  1.       4 x 4 summary – create four four-word sentences about the text.
  2.  11 Sentence Summary
  3.      25 word Gist statement
  4.      A to Z chart with words, phrases, or sentences that are related to the test
  5.      Acrostic poem based on a character in the text from the viewpoint of the main character.
  6.      Advertisement about a person, place or thing from the text.
  7.      Analysis of poems related to the story events or theme.
  8.      Annotated bibliography of resources regarding your unit of study.
  9.      Author blog post that lets your audience gain insight into your thought processes. Pretend that you are the author and you have been asked to explain which parts of the novel were the easiest and the hardest for you to write.
  10.      Character Map that examines character traits, physical description, or personality traits
  11.  Character’s playlist
  12.  Collage that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  13.  Comic Strip that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  14.  Comparison of the text to another text on a similar topic that you have read.
  15.  Concept or Definition Map
  16.  Create a list of 15 words from the text and illustrate them to show their meaning.
  17.  Crossword Puzzle that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  18.  Diary entry that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  19.  Different ending for the text and create a Smore or poster showing the new story.
  20.  Digital story about an experience that you have had that was similar to that of one of the characters in the text.
  21.  Diorama that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  22.  Display that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  23.  Facebook or IG posts that show the changes that the main character underwent in the text.
  24.  Family Tree that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  25.  Fishbowl, Socratic Seminar or Chatroom questions
  26.  Flip Book that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  27.  Game that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  28.  Graphic Organizers
  29.  Hashtags for a person, place or thing from the text.
  30.  Illustration or Word Cloud  that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  31.  Interview one of the characters and ask him/her to explain some of the actions in the text.
  32.  Interview that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  33.  Jigsaw reporting of specific text element
  34.  Jingle that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  35.  Memes that depict the events or character interactions from the text.
  36.  Newspaper Story that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  37.  Notecard Confession Video that describes the problems the main character encountered in the text and tell how this character solved these problems.
  38.  Obituary that will describe the character. Pretend that one of the characters in the text has died.
  39.  Painting or Drawing that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  40.  Pamphlet highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  41.  Photo Essay that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  42.  Picture/Poster that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  43.  Podcast that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  44.  Poem that describes the plot of the text or poem created from an image related to the plot of the text.
  45.  Product based upon the text.
  46.  Radio Program that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  47.  Rap that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  48. Series of #hashtags that show how a character withing the text is similar to a person that you know. Discuss your answer in #BeLikeVal #ParenthesisRULE #1STandFOREMOST #YouDontMoveBeforeMe #Igo1stYouGo2nd
  49.  Text messages from or to the main character of the text. What do you see?
  50.  ThingLink showing the event highlights or locations of the novel
  51.  Tweets that describe events (real or imagined) that took place in the text.
  52.  Video that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  53.  Web Page that highlights an event, person, place or thing from the text.
  54. Youtube channel for the main character. What are some of the videos that he has uploaded?

Raise the rigor and have your students to defend their selection either in writing or orally.

Give yourself and your class a break and break up the testing monotony.

 

April 9

Blog Post Guidelines

At the completion of each mission, create a blog post with a brief reflection. The reflection should capture your experience and your thinking about the mission and the tool you explored. Here are some questions to guide you as you write your blog posts:

  • What did you create, and why?
  • What went well for you? What was challenging? What did you enjoy?
  • What ideas do you have for using this tool with your students, or for using this tool to communicate with families?

These questions are intended to be a guide, you don’t have to answer them.

Thanks for participating.

March 9

PhotoGrid

PhotoGrid – picture collage and photostory creator

PhotoGrid allows you to combine ordinary photos into worth-share photo collages; you can decorate your pics by applying filters, adding stickers and text.

PhotoGrid is a free collage app that lets you combine multiple photos into one large photo.  The app has a built-in text tool that allows you to add captions.

The Mission
Use the collage maker to create a collage that showcases four of your favorite books.

The Steps

  1. Gather pictures of the books. Either take photos of the covers or find them online and save them.
  2. Open PhotoGrid and click the + to create your collage or grid template. You can change the layout as well as the background.
  3. Adding text requires that you tap on the T – Text.  Type your message, and play with the fonts, color, and highlight to your satisfaction.  Pinch objects with two fingers and make the caption box smaller, or open fingers to enlarge.  Drag your caption to the desired spot.
  4. Click next and then save when you have personalized your collage.
  5. Upload your collage to your blog and complete your reflection.

Classroom uses:
PhotoGrid is a great tool for students to use to create posters, collages, photostories, and collections of images with text. Students can create collages about the current unit of study, favorite movies, or books. Have students take pictures along the inquiry process and collage them to create a reflection.  Students can also join photos to represent degrees of a concept (whisper, speak, shout or drizzle, rain, thunderstorm), to recommend books or represent a single idea visually.

PhotoGrid is great for you to share what your students are working on in class.

To earn your badge:

Complete a reflection blog post about your experience.   that describes your experience. Tag your post as #TchrScolrs and share your work so that we can all celebrate your creation.

February 19

Revamping my Summary Assignments

I am Shaking up the way I have my scholars summarize information. 

This MONTH’S #BLOGAMONTH TOPIC is a challenge to ‘do things differently.’

“Change a constant.”

Whether this is taking your class outside, putting music on, removing desks, unplugging your tech lesson, going paperless…etc, lets break the routine and reflect.

I decided to shake things up and do away with requiring summaries from my Scholars. I will instead be focusing on Gist statements, Blackout Poems, and Student Generated Questions. We do need to check on their understanding but as you read your 30th rendition of

  • First, this happened
  • Then, this happened
  • So then, this happened

It gets old and hard to deal with. They hated writing it and after picking up the 31st paper, I am apt to declare, “Nope not interested at all. No thanks. Don’t want to read anymore.” But what I can deal with is a quick check that requires my Scholars to summarize the text in 25 words. Okay yes, I know I used the dirty s@@#$%^ word but the number of required words in the summary gives it an interesting twist.

“Whoa! Wait!?!? What?!?! 25 words?!?!” – their response.

“Yes, 25 words. No more. No less. Exactly 25 words.” – my response.

Not only have I just decreased the number of words that I have to read but I have drastically increased the rigor. It takes some serious critical thinking to reduce a passage into a prescribed number of words. Gist Statements are just one way to rid your Scholars of the dreaded, boring, standard summary assignment.

Gist Statements

  • Objective:  Accurately paraphrase sentences, keeping original meaning, and changing the structure of the sentence if necessary
  • Learning experience: Learners will read and locate/synthesize information and create a summary of 20-25 words.
  • Student product:  Brief summary passage
  • Rationale: This strategy helps students identify the most important ideas in a text, put those ideas into their own words, and then make connections between among these important ideas.

BlackOut poem

  • Objective: Read closely to determine the main idea or purpose of a text and eliminating all other words. Blackout poetry is a page of text that has been partially blacked out – colored over with a permanent marker so that the only visible text provides insight into the text as a whole.
  • Learning experience: Learners will read, locate information of interest and highlight sections of a chosen text.
  • Student product: Text based poem that can be shared and displayed.
  • Rationale: Creating BlackOut Poetry is an effective strategy to promote active and critical reading skills by requiring students to read the text and identify points of interest. These points of interest can either be teacher directed or student driven.

Student Generated Questions

  • Objective: analyze and synthesize a text and compose possible test questions.
  • Learning experience: Learners will read and locate/synthesize information to create questions.
  • Student product:  Discussion and/or multiple choice questions.to be used for a test, Kahoot game or a round of Quiz-Quiz-Trade.
  • Rationale:  Creating questions help students gain a deeper understanding of the text. It requires students to find textual evidence to support their question/answer choices. This activity requires students to explore concepts from the assigned text.

Can you revamp your summary game by using Gist statements, Blackout Poems, and Student Generated Questions? Try these activities out and I guarantee you that your Scholars will thank you.

(That’s not really true.) 

Condensing text drives many of them crazy and the responsibility of creating possible test questions scares many but at least it is not the same, boring assignment and you can get the necessary feedback that you need.