Thursday, September 17, 2015

Week 4: Living in a Nonfiction Paradise (Week of 9/18/2015)

This week, Mother Nature took pity on us and cooled Laguna down. The windows were open again, fresh breezes made learning enjoyable, and the sun kept us downright happy.

In English, we're nearing the end of learning about nonfiction and gearing up to use our knowledge in what I like to call our "life test". Basically, a "life test" is when students are asked to take the knowledge they learned in class and apply it to a project or activity. Pretty soon, we'll be embarking on our bullying unit culminating in a research project. Students will be reading lots of nonfiction dealing with the various types of bullying (physical, mental, emotional, and the new one, cyber), watching a documentary dealing with bullying, and completing a project (with a partner or alone) on one of the four types of bullying by creating a newspaper article, brochure, or Google Slides show. All students will then give a TED Talk-style presentation to their classmates. Last year's projects absolutely floored me. I was so impressed with the professionalism and academia my students enveloped as they presented on the topic of their choosing.

Students in my first period class race the clock and each other
to see who's "top Lancer" on the leaderboard.
What a fun way to review for a quiz!

This week, we've been revisiting the nonfiction quiz I gave two weeks ago. The results weren't quite where I'd like them to be, so we broke apart one quiz and used it as bellwork (leading to class discussion) and the other part, the labeling, was tweaked and made more user friendly to ensure student success. They've really been impressing me with their knowledge of what features make up nonfiction and how they know that a heading, for example, is indeed a heading. Thursday, we played Kahoot!, an interactive, game show style review game that has students not only racing the clock, but competing against each other to claim a spot on the "top 5" leaderboard. They really love reviewing when we play Kahoot! Of course, Murphy's Law reared its ugly head fifth period when the Chromebooks/WiFi that had been working perfectly fine all day decided to quit, leaving us with only five students able to log in and play. Mrs. Mooney joined us fifth period to see the game in action which turned into her helping us troubleshoot. What was supposed to be an individual game turned into five groups of students all competing against each other. It turns out that the tech failure led to a new way to play Kahoot! that I'll surely use in the future.
Here are some quotes I heard today:
"This game was so much fun!!!"
"I wish I would have studied, I would have beat you!"
"Why can't we play this in our other classes?" (spoiler alert: Mr. Townsend plays this and I actually stole the idea from him)
"Reviewing for our quiz is really fun!"
"Can we play this tomorrow?"

I look forward to seeing my students shine bright on their nonfiction quiz retakes tomorrow!!!

My AVID kids had another amazing week. This week was all about perfecting our Cornell Notes and learning about the Tutorial process, which starts next week. As a class, we finished our "Cookie article" Cornell notes and completed a Cornell Notes checklist, seeing how our notes stacked up against the rubric. We then moved into learning about Tutorials and taking more Cornell Notes, this time armed with the knowledge of successful note taking. Our class conversations continue to be so mature and scholarly! On Thursday, students took the notes they'd written so far and were challenged to share them with five other people in the class. Everyone had to keep talking and sharing until they'd reached their five and could then sit down. It was fun getting up and moving around while sharing our knowledge and understanding with each other. I'm excited to finish teaching about the Tutorial process so I can see my AVID Rockstars have an amazing first Tutorial on Tuesday!

Don't forget to be awesome!!!
Kevin Laffin

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