Ode to the BIG FINAL EXAM!

When you think about it, when do you remember your introduction to studying? I mean real studying. Not reading over something, or memorizing words, numbers, or steps. You know, when you poured through the material and broke it down. Took notes and worked through the material in a way that taught you the hows and whys of the concept. I’m guessing it was when you took Algebra, or Physics in High School. I think we’d all agree that studying is a gem that can get you those grades you want, and better than that, gives you that value-added skill that can make you successful in life. So, as a middle school teacher I’ve looked at my curriculum and my students and have made decisions with testing and grading that lead me to the conclusion that if a test isn’t hard, students will not study. It’s human nature, right? But, if it’s evil, long, and hard, they will study or die. So, those are the words that my students live by in my class. Study or die. And though I take a lot of pride in getting my students to study, I pay the ultimate price during winter break in grading that huge heavy stack. So, here’s the 1st semester final 2017: 1st Semester Final ex. p1 1st Semester Final ex. p2 1st Semester Final ex. p3 1st Semester Final ex. p4 1st Semester Final ex. p5 1st Semester Final ex. p6 1st Semester Final ex. p7 1st Semester Final ex. p8 1st Semester Final ex. p9 As you can see, this test perfectly fits the bill if you want...

Peardeck Helps Focus Nov. 17, 2017

Yesterday was one of those days where our schedule was disrupted by a guest speaker event. We had all of our kids in the school’s gymnasium for an hour and a half, then my sixth graders were taken out of their last three periods of the day for a special team building event with 8th grade leaders. So, I had three classes to prepare for, and whatever I did would need to be educational, not graded, yet would hold the kids attention on this crazy day. Answer – Between the Folds Documentary on Origami and 4 Peardeck Questions Between the Folds Peardeck...

Peardeck’s Dashboard Helps Foster Inclusion

Over my career, one of the most challenging teaching goals has been, “how do I promote my 6th grade science students to become resources for the learning of others in the classroom?” Pear Deck has been a big help in fostering a spirit of inclusion in my classroom! One of the things I’ve done to help promote kids talking to each other and feeling safe enough to share the deeper whys and hows of their thought processes has been using Pear Deck’s Dashboard during weekly sessions. By scrolling through how kids are answering questions, I can make a sort of game out of certain questions and question types that may be particularly important to understanding a week’s main concept and may be difficult for them to wrestle. If everyone gets a multiple choice question, a number answer, or a draggable correct, then we all get to say “yay” in unison. They’re instructed through the year not to give out answers, but to “lead the ones they’re helping” to the correct answer without revealing the actual answer. I say “I know you are all good people and want to help your classmates, but if you reveal the answer you’re harming your friend’s education. You can show them where to find the answer, or how to think about it without giving it away completely. If you help them and let them find their own answer, they get to learn!” One of our Physical Science standards includes understanding the force equation (F=MA), so we had Peardeck questions for the demo – dropping different masses into clay and measuring drops of water. The...