Hi "Not So Elementary" friends! I am so happy to be guest blogging for Sally today! My name is Michelle and you can find me over at No Monkey Business...Just Bunches of Learning blog. I'm a 22 year teaching veteran that's taught K-3rd. I'm currently in a 3rd grade position and love it! I'm originally a Kentucky girl, but moved to TN about 8 years ago. I'm a die hard Kentucky Wildcat fan in a Tennessee Volunteer nation. (It's not pretty on Fridays when everyone sports their orange and I'm obnoxiously in my royal blue!) :-)
If you keep up with the current trends in Education by state, you know that my current home state of Tennessee has been in the "hot seat" lately with rigorous teacher evaluations and improving classroom practices. TN just implemented the TEAM model, where monetary bonuses are given to teachers that score high on their evaluations (which also include test score data and professionalism ratings). This past year I was selected as the Lead Teacher in my building, meaning I had to assist with these new evaluations. Of course, I have to receive them myself, so I can't get away from the 100+ indicator rubric no matter how hard I try. :-)
As teachers have worked on improving practices, closing a lesson effectively has been in many discussions (and on the teacher evaluation rubric). What drives this discussion (and the rubric) is making sure that students master what we teach them. Sounds simple enough, huh? However, often times teachers (myself included...guilty as charged) teach their hearts out with an impressive 'hook' to lure the students in, present the concept in a meaningful and engaging way, then assign something that they may not even be able to look at for a day or two. In the meantime, keep moving with the material because the curriculum says you have to. (Sound familiar?) The big picture here is if we don't take time to quickly assess their understanding right then and there, we lose valuable insight to what our students are learning from us. Two days down the road when I am able to grade "Johnny's" work and see that he didn't understand something, he's possibly 2 days behind if the concept continued to build and he didn't get it from Day 1. As a result, our teachers are working really hard to gather instant feedback through strong closures in their lessons.
I thought I'd share a FREEBIE with you that demonstrates some of my favorite ways to close a lesson as strongly as you began it, and get quick feedback on where your students are after you've taught a concept. I don't think any of this is NEW NEWS, but what I did was take some good closing strategies and create something I knew I could use with my kiddos in the classroom. One of my favorites is the 'Parking Lot." What teacher hasn't been to workshop where the presenter asked you to park any questions you had on a post it note and put it in the "parking lot" (a poster or chart that said PARKING LOT on it), so he/she could look at them and answer your questions before you left for the day. They wanted to make sure you 'got' the material, right? I took that idea and brought it back to my classroom with mini "parking lots." All you need are some 5x7 clear plastic picture frames (one per table) and a copy of the clipart parking lot I created, some post it notes, and you're ready to go! My students LOVE a good excuse to use post it notes. You can use this idea for questions, comments, explanations, examples, illustrations, or whatever you want them to show you at the end of the lesson. It's very similar to the "Exit ticket" system where students place their exit tickets on a poster before moving on. I like this version because I can do a quick walk around the room to see who has "parked" a correct answer or example and/or who's still driving around lost. ;-)
Another favorite (and yes, it involves post it notes too!) is the "Give Me a . and a ?" at the end of a lesson. Students have to write a quick statement about what they've learned and question they could ask a 'buddy' about their learning. Some great peer tutoring/discussion takes place if a student can't answer another student's question. The great thing about these is that they both can be geared up or down depending on what grade you teach. It may look more like pictures and examples for the youngers, but involve more writing for the olders.
These are just a couple of quick, fun examples that help close a lesson with the teacher gathering immediate evidence of student understanding. I've got these and a few more for ya' in a FREEBIE "Let's RECAP" packet that you are welcome to grab from my TpT store. :-)
In the future, I hope you'll "swing" on over to my blog sometime! Feel free to come grab more freebies and/or just stop in to say HI!
A huge THANK YOU to Sally for letting me share and hang out with you all today! We'd love to hear your thoughts, comments, and/or additional ideas on what works for you when you close a lesson!
Bananas for freebies and friends that let you 'guest post!'
Now that you've seen Michelle's wonderful guest post, check out the blogs of all these other wonderful teachers! Be sure to check out Conversations in Literacy, where I'll be guest blogging today!