Something About Giving Students Feedback

I’ve talked about the importance of teachers receiving and accepting feedback. Now I want to touch on the importance of giving feedback to our students.

– Get to know which students are able to hear blunt feedback and take it and work hard to improve, and get to know which students need you to build up their confidence by pointing out what you noticed them doing well and giving feedback that shows you are proud of them.
– Know which students need more scaffolding and ask them the type of questions that will help you learn more about where they are at in terms of the content you’ve taught, give them positive feedback about their learning progress, not focusing on the level they are at.
– When grading assessments, don’t mark the right answers, but offer thoughtful feedback. After you give students feedback, let them correct their test answers, this will help you get to know if they still need support in that certain area.

Not too long ago, a student  got frustrated while playing basketball at the gym, because people were holding instead of dribbling and the P.E. teacher didn’t do anything about it. He told me about it, I told him I understand why he’s feeling frustrated and I’m proud of him for talking to me about it. I asked him how he wants to solve this problem (I referred to Kelso’s choices). He said he wanted to cool off and asked if he could sit at the back table during lunch, I said I’m proud of him for choosing to make the right choice. My positive feedback helped him get past a negative situation.

Another student consistently tries to be recognized by the teacher. Throughout the day he constantly says, “I have an answer, pick me pick me, look teacher, I finished my homework..” I’ve tried telling him that I love how enthusiastic he is about learning and sharing his good ideas, but that it’s important to help other people’s learning by letting them speak and try to reason as well. This approach worked for a while, but then he continued on with the same habit. His blurting out was distracting others, so I met with him one on one and said that I love how hard he works, that he wants to share his great ideas all of the time and I want to hear everything he has to say, but sometimes if I do that, I’m not letting other student have a chance to learn and share their thoughts. I gave him a choice, I said that we can either think of a silent signal that he can show me when he’s done with his work or when he’s proud of how well he did on the given task, or when he wants to share. Or he can monitor his own learning and hard work by putting a star in a sticky note every time he finishes something quickly, or every time he had a good thought that he didn’t get to share, and I will try to notice his stars as I intentionally walk past his desk.” He chose the second option, the stars on the sticky note. The next day I reminded him about our conversation and told him that today I will be looking for him doing that. When I noticed him putting a star on his sticky he smiled. It was awesome because it was a silent signal between the two of us and he was getting my attention without distracting anyone else. I was able to give him the attention and feedback he wanted, without interrupting others’ learning.

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Growth

I have definitely been a reflective teacher this quarter, I reflect on everything that happens in class during the day and then I chose one thing that I feel would be worth writing about. I think the Whale Tales post I just did is one that demonstrates my growth, because it was a great reflection on something that took place in school that students were excited to learn about. It’s really nice to be able to go back and read about something that happened in the classroom. It reminds me to focus closely on student learning by analyzing students’ work and their conversations/responses. As I work with students, I’ve found that it’s beneficial to take photos of their work or take notes on what they said in order to document the learning that is taking place, and to later be able to see what that looked like. I have reached out to my audience by reading about their perspectives on education and what happens in the classroom, and expressing my thoughts on that or adding to what their opinion. I contributed to agileshrew’s blog post comment about asking students questions and eliciting meaningful responses from them. I linked it to an example of a similar thing I noticed being done/mentioned in another person’s blog.

Some links I’ve talked about that you might like to check out:
http://levelitbooks.com
http://www.glogster.com
https://www.plt.org
http://killerwhaletales.org

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Whale Tales

 

Today, the third graders at my school and I got the privilege of getting a visit from the Killer Whale Tale man, the one and only Jeff Hogan. I have to take a moment to say that this was one of the most engaging presentations I’ve ever seen. Students were so engaged; they were “ohh-ing” and “ahh-ing” the whole two hours! Jeff is a scientist who studies killer whales. Has been doing research for 15 years. His presentation on killer whales, included a lot of information that was unique, intriguing and accessible to children. He made them laugh the entire time, especially when he talked about collecting whale poop (which he says is very scientific) and that he looks at the DNA in it to see if the whale is healthy, sick, pregnant, stressed, and most importantly to see what he or she has eaten. I laughed a lot too! I could tell Jeff was so passionate about whales. He gave background information about himself and the day his life was changed when he first went to an orca show as a 6th grader. Throughout his presentation, I loved how he constantly used scientific terms, called students scientists, and compared kids to a killer whale. I think that was their favorite part, seeing what they have in common with a killer whale. Did you know in our skeletons, humans and orcas both have ribs, a spine, a belly button, a sternum, a pelvis, a blow hole (our nose), eyes, and that just like us, Orcas are mammals. 

Orcas use their tail/fins for swimming, communicating with others, and maintaining their body temperature. They live in family groups called pods. Orcas are fast. An average male usually lives about 50 years but Jeff has found one who’s been alive for about 100 years. A full-grown male whale’s dorsal fin is at least 5ft tall.  Whales use sound to see, the word he taught the students was echolocation. They don’t see in color. His presentation of this information was so engaging, he created an entire story shaped around Orcas. He included tons of pictures and sounds that students could see and hear. He talked about how Southern Resident Killer Whales have their own language. He played a recording of the different calls Orcas have and the students imitated them. Towards the end of the presentation, when I could see that the students were all just in love with Orcas, he told the about who they are disappearing unfortunately. Here were some of the reasons he listed for their disappearance:


1. Lack of food

2. Pollution (chemicals like engine oil going down the drain) makes them sick. He showed them an underwater video of all of the chemicals coming into the water through big pipes

3. Noise of boats being too close disturbs the whales and makes them not be able to hear their echo locations 

4. Captures – people were catching them to put them in aquariums 



He also briefly talked about:

 What can we do? Kids can make a difference! 


  • Refuse. Reuse. Recycle. 
  • Shut off lights and water when not using them.
  • Eat organic food

 

At the end, he also had the students do an experiment about “What is the world like from a killer exhales point of view?” Jeff told the kids about how him and his team put a Dtag onto a whale, which documented everything the whale did for that entire day. Through actual scientific data, students got to see and label how far underwater the whale went, when he ate, when he tried to communicate using clicking noises, or some of the other calls they learned. It was overall, such a wonderful experience! I learned so much, I would recommend that all schools bring Whale Tales to their students!


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Purpose of testing

I love how my main placement teacher reminds students why she gives them tests. She tells them that tests give her information for how and on what to help students with. Last week, she gave students a pretest on geometry, she showed them the data score sheet without showing students’ names and explained how the scores help her to give students the support they need. I think it is great for students to see how the teacher collects data and to know how she uses that information to change her instruction. 

Before giving her students fresh reads, she said there are two very important reasons for doing fresh reads:
“One reason is for accuracy. Who can tell me what accuracy is? Accuracy is when you read words correctly. Why is accuracy important? It makes sure you are reading the passage correctly so you are understanding what you read, understanding the meaning of each sentence. The second reason is fluency. Who knows what fluency is? Reading at a pretty smooth pace means you read fluently (she modeled the difference between not reading fluently and reading fluently). The questions on the back of the passage check your understanding and comprehension of what you just read. We spend a lot of time on fresh reads and I wanted to make sure you know why it is important.”

I really appreciate that my teacher found it important to take some time and share with her students the reason she gives them tests. I feel that students are thankful for that as well. 

 

Creating a Math Unit

During class today I worked with a group to create a math unit plan based off of a Math Expressions unit for fifth grade. I thought it was a great opportunity for us, because next year when we are teaching, we will be handed a curriculum book and will need to figure out how to teach it in order to best meet students’ needs. Looking at the curriculum, together as a group we needed to make a plan for how the lessons can help students make connections between facts, concepts, computations/procedures, and reasoning/problem solving strategies to deepen their learning of mathematics. We needed to consider different strategies, like math talks or number strings to implement. We also needed to think about different misconceptions students might have and how we could address them. We needed to think about how to identify and support language demands. And finally, we needed to think about how we would assess students’ understanding of the main concepts, through out the lessons.

 Next year, I will also be working with other fellow grade level teachers to make plans for how we are going to teach math, and this assignment was good practice for working in a group to make decisions together. I feel like there are always difficulties when working with a group of people, whether there might be disagreement or scheduling issues. However, I’m really happy that I will be able to work in a team to and build ideas off of each other, in order to become better teachers! 

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his is a poster showing our plan for the overall unit

Teaching Internet Safety

Three weeks ago, at my main placement, I got the chance to sit in on the digital tech lab class. There is a tech teacher at my elementary school that teaches my students once a week for about 45 minutes. I’ve gone to a few of her other sessions, but I thought this week’s lesson was of great importance. During her class, each student has a laptop. They first watch as she is modeling on the board, then they work at their own pace to complete each task. I was peeking at students’ laptops, and helping students who were stuck. I saw that they were completing activities that were teaching them about Internet safety and I have to say that I was very happy with that! In today’s age where almost every student has a computer at home, it is so important for school to teach children about the positive aspects and the Internet, as well as the risks. From my impress, this activity was a on going thing, where students would learn about how to stay safe while on the internet, then they would be assessed on what they learned. Students who answered correctly are then able to go to the next level. Along with Internet safety, students were learning about cyber bullying, as well as how to use the Internet in general. Things like, what is an address bar, how to create an email account, how to add something to favorites, etc. I noticed that the kids really enjoyed doing this activity on their laptops and quite frankly, they were really good at it. For some students, it was a surprise that you shouldn’t give out your personal information online and it seemed like it was their first time learning about cyber bullying. I think it would be great to have further discussion (outside of the tech class) about what they learned and how real it is.

I learned one way to do that is by using glogster. Glogster is short for “graphic blog.” It is an awesome tool for both teachers and students! Glogster allows you to create fun, interactive, digital posters. Three of my classmates and I created our first glog today! Check it out!

 

http://hokuli4.edu.glogster.com/new-glog

Science in School

I just have to say that I love how enthusiastic my CT is about science and making sure that students see themselves as scientists. She puts in the extra work in order to make sure that students have personal experience in learning about the earth and the different aspects of science.  Our district uses the FOSS kits, but a lot of times the teacher does extra research in order to create a more clear and extensive learning experience for her students. I also love how she makes it clear that she has high expectation of them, so they don’t waste their time during science, instead, they appreciate being given the opportunity to work with different tools and make observations like scientist do. Growing up, and even until recently, I always thought that science was challenge and it was just not something I’m good at. However, now that I am seeing how my teacher makes science accessible to third graders, I’ve begun to feel like it is not as intimidating of a subject as I had thought. Science is actually really interesting, if not the most interesting, because it integrates all of the subject (reading, writing, math, social studies and art, in my opinion). In science you get to learn through personal experience – handling, tangibly seeing and studying about the earth. Recently, the third graders have been studying snails.The other day, working in partners, each pair was able to measure the snails’ mass. Together as a class, they found that the average snail weighs 3 grams. They have been reading about snails from a science journal called Structures of Life (part of the FOSS science kit) and have learned that snails have a strong muscular foot. They wanted to find out exactly how strong snails are. The experiment was to tie a string to the snails’ backs and have them pull a paper clip on which students kept added washers to until the snail could take no more. One group found that their snail could pull 28 washers! Each weighed 4 grams. so 28×4=122 grams. The kids were amazing at their results. A snail could pull 122 grams which is 40.6 times its own weight! (122g/3g) Then the teacher related it to herself and her own weight. She showed that if she was a snail and could pull 40.6 times her own weight, then she would be able to pull 5,075lbs. Then it order to make that number more relevant to students she did quick research and was able to tell students that 5,075lbs. is like the equivalent of a killer whale and a small horse! She wanted to clarify that she’s not saying a snail could pull a whale and a horse, so she asked a student to repeat what she was trying to say. “You are saying that if you (a human) was as strong as a snail, you could pull a killer whale and a pony, because their weight combined is 40 times your weight.” The kids were so intrigued by that, adding that little part to the lesson made it seem so much more relatable. Now, the students have to use their findings to figure our how much weight they could pull if they were a snail. I can say without a doubt that these students went home that night and told their parents what they learned!

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