New Teachers (or Teachers who feel new),
Congratulations! You've almost half way through the school year! If you're like I was at the beginning of my career, the following things probably ring true:
1. It's not at all like on TV.
2. It's a lot harder than you thought it would be.
3. You're starting to get the hang of it.
4. Just a few more easy weeks, then a nice, long and restful holiday season!
Well, the first few are definitely true. But don't worry; everyone feels like that. The last one, though...
Well, remember how your students were right before Halloween? Multiply that by 10.
So, here are some tips and strategies to try out or keep in mind as we all get geared up for a restful break:
1. Lesson plan and make copies for at least the first week after break so you can actually rest and re-charge during the break; you'll need it.
2. Plan less intense, more interactive activities that let your students talk - because they will anyway. Harness their talking for learning.
3. Don't be afraid to try something new. If it works - great! If it fails miserably, your students probably won't remember it after the holiday break anyway.
4. Lastly, relax over break. Teaching is hard, really hard, and all of us no mater how many years of experience we have need (and deserve) to rest and relax once in a while.
Relax, and Happy Holidays,
Do you know why you tell someone which street to turn on well before you get to the intersection rather than as they driver is passing it? Obviously because it allows the driver to safely make the turn rather than in a two-wheeled, tires squealing fashion in a cloud of smoking rubber.
Teaching is like this too; if you clue in your students about what they will be learning about ahead of time, it is easier for their brains to pick out what is important. This idea is the core of Marzano's eighth element.
So, how can you (or an administrator who is evaluating your classroom) know if this element is being utilized?
Last year, I posted a blog about my readers' theater plays. If you visit that link, you will find links to all of my readers' theater plays that supplement many different Social Studies topics. I wrote and use them to teach content at the middle school level, and my wife, an elementary teacher, uses them to work with kids on reading fluency. We sell most of them through her store, but the set I want to highlight today are my Mesopotamia plays which are available at my store.
Mesopotamia, the very first civilization can be daunting for a lot of students. Strange sounding place names (like Ur) and vocabulary terms (like Ziggurat) can scare some kids away from this fascinating group of cultures. My leveled readers' theater plays help make this content more relateable.
Students learn about a Mesopotamian myth, the first written laws (Hammurabi's Code), and the invention of writing (cuneiform) while performing these plays in small groups. I use these at least once in every unit I teach, and my students really have fun with them while learning history!
This week, I'm going to highlight my European Colonization Reading Response Journals. These activities are great to use as warm-ups, or as a way to introduce the process of generating and testing a Social Studies hypothesis. Personally, I typically use them to introduce a topic.
My European Colonization set includes these 3 topics: Spanish colonization, French colonization, and English colonization. In each, students are presented with a question about which they generate a hypothesis. Then, they read a brief selection and complete 5 Marzano aligned tasks while considering the accuracy of their initial hypotheses. The activity concludes with them re-visiting and evaluating their hypotheses citing evidence from the reading.
So, click the link below to check out my European Colonization Reading Response Journals which is also available as part of a larger bundle, and don't forget to check out and follow my store for more great American History resources!
Organizing students to do various tasks is so second-nature to most educators that it might be surprising that organizing students to interact with content is actually a Marzano element. But, like just about anything Marzano related, it's all about being intentional. Why are you putting those students in that group? What is the end goal?
Below are some things you (or an administrator during an evaluation) could look for to see if you are implementing this element in your classroom.
My classroom almost always operates in table groups of 4. To help things move more quickly and to better manage my class, each student has a number between 1 - 4 at their table and is either an "A" or "B" partner. It's easier for me to say, "Person 4 get books for your table while person 2 gets paper," or "Person 3 facilitate a quick discussion about..." than to list off each individual's task or responsibility every time there is a group related task. They also work help facilitate the many variety of round robin group activities I use in class on an almost daily basis.
To keep it all straight, I use the FREE Table Mats found at the link below. Click the link to take a look, and don't forget to check out the rest of my store for other great Marzano aligned Social Studies resources!
I'm a 14 year veteran teacher that loves teaching, coaching, writing, and my family.