Creating and developing skills by doing is the product of understanding. This supports and leads me to share about the importance of project-Based Learning (PBL). I first became familiar with PBL when reading Tony Wagner’s Global Achievement Gap that goes to a much deeper level about schools that work. He defined rigor as not how much content is covered but how deep the analysis of the content goes. Rigor is about the pursuit of inquiry, which results from hands-on learning and showing what you know. After beginning a new reading and writing program three years ago, time did not permit any efforts of implementing PBL into the curriculum. I now realize just how important it was for developing thinkers and problem solvers, and I will now be looking at ways to find time to bring it back into the classroom.
My ELA curriculum is crammed-packed with so much to do with little time to do it. Reading and writing workshop is delivered face-to-face so I have relied on the creative use of technology to cover all of the grammar material that is required for 5th grade. Flipping the grammar curriculum has enabled me to cover the required skills and establish a level of independence in my learners. I use a Learning Management System (LMS) through PowerSchool that allows my curriculum to be organized and accessible from a laptop, phone, or iPad. Google Classroom is a free LMS that can be used to manage online curriculum as well.
It is a process for creating quality instructional tutorials for flipping grammar in the classroom. I personally like Powtoon because it allows me the ability to easily use animation for teaching the parts of the sentence as well as showing how the parts of speech function in the context of sentences. Powtoon is a free site, but I have chosen to pay for the Pro version so that I can hide the watermark as well as have the option of downloading my video so that I can upload it into my class Learning Management System. With Powtoon, I can choose my own avatar, and I can upload my own voice recording that explicitly teaches the skills in the way that I want.
After the fifth grade students designed their learning space, it was time to analyze all of their blueprints and make a final decision for the arrangement of the room. Using a Google form to create an online survey, the students came to a consensus on the type of learning centers they wanted as well as their location in the room.
Every school year, I begin by setting up my classroom and organizing the furniture as I position all of the contents according to my preference and place the things that I want to be visible on the walls. Why? Because it’s my classroom of course and I am the main source of knowledge and information and I know what’s best for my students. NOT! Let’s rethink this…. Is the classroom really MINE? and should I get to be the sole decision maker on what is learned and how it is learned? Why do I give myself the power to create a learning space before I receive the input from the other eighty learners who will be occupying the same room for the next nine months.
Here are 15 graphic organizers that can be used for many different subject areas and grade levels. Make a copy of any of them and adapt them for your own use:
During the reading of David Perkin’s book Making Learning Whole, I was able to make connections to the way that I manage my classroom and I discovered so many other ways that I can teach for understanding. Practicing skills on a regular basis without the real world application of how it works doesn’t allow students to make the connection and see the importance of what they are learning. Perkins used the analogy of baseball practice: the practice of pitching, catching, hitting, and throwing. He discussed how working on the small parts prepares one for the big game. It’s not until you put it all together to play the whole game of baseball that you see the importance of practicing the small parts.