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.

 

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.

June 29

My Summer PD

When is it time to stop learning? NEVER!!

I have recently decided to follow the BlogAMonth topics and the topic for June deals with Summer Professional Development. I have over-committed myself and I have already failed 1/6 online courses that I signed up for. oops

June PD

Teacher Leader Summit held at the Morial Convention Center (face to face)

  • takeaway: tons of tips about best practices and discussions about our new CCSS Guidebook

LACUE Leadership Summit held in Baton Rouge (face to face)

  • I presented a session about close reading and using tech tools to support literacy strategies.
  • takeaway: resources and tech tools to try in my class and to share with others.

Project Based Learning: How to Guide Inquiry, Managing Teamwork and How to Make a Project Authentic (online via Edmodo)

  • takeaway: resources and ideas about how to successfully create project based learning experiences

Making Learning Connected (#clmooc)

A collaborative, knowledge-building and sharing experience open to anyone interested in making, playing, and learning together about the educational framework known as Connected Learning. It extends through July.

July work

SREB and HSTW in Nashville (face to face)

Reform Symposium

  • an online global event highlighting “wow” moments in teaching and learning.

APSI in Boston (face to face)

Making Learning Connected (#clmooc)

  • a collaborative, knowledge-building and sharing experience open to anyone interested in making, playing, and learning together about the educational framework known as Connected Learning

Those are just a few of the learning opportunities that I have signed up for. Just a few… Knowing me, I will sign up for others.

Do you have plans? If not try

  1. Reform Symposium
  2. Edmodocon 2014
  3. ASCD Webinar
  4. Simple K12 Summer Webinars