Back To School
A final wrap up of the First Level series, three ideas from the archives that fit perfectly with setting up a long term goal in the first weeks of school.
Do you know what your kids' goals are beyond grades? Take a few minutes to delve into their lives outside of the classroom.
As silly as it may sound, providing sentence stems or "fill in the blanks" can give your kids the scaffold they need to achieve a higher level of success.
One "first level" teachers must carefully prepare is the physical classroom layout.
As a 6th grade teacher, I would see students give up just as things became difficult. Because of their natural intelligence, they could succeed without putting in the work that their peers were learning to do. So I introduced a motto.
Using Hilda Taba's model of inductive thinking, use your students' prior knowledge to develop a statement about expected class behavior.
Ask your students to write about their summer breaks, but remix their activities into a new genre or setting. Perhaps they vacationed at Hogwarts, Mordor, or Tatooine? Not interested in a writing assignment? Have them rewrite a Beatles song about their summer vacations.
You know you're supposed to put your cart into a designated area in the parking lot, but you'd rather not take the effort since you're in a hurry. And after all, one cart doesn't make a difference! However, if we all take this mindset, soon the parking lot is impossible to park in, carts are slamming into cars, and businesses are raising prices to pay for all of the broken carts.
We're supposed to rank fifteen items according to usefulness if we were stranded on the light-side of the moon. The items range from pistols to powdered milk. Some seem useful, but are actually worthless while others seem unnecessary on earth, but are actually vital when stuck on the moon. However, the structure of the activity as a website is not optimal. Let's improve this and make it an awesome problem–solving exercise for our class.
Generalizations, big ideas, abstractions, universal themes... they are designed to help our gifted students learn. However, what I didn't realize was that they would help me teach!