I have one finely honed skill that serves me better in the classroom than all the rest: I know when I should steal a great idea. Well, I am not really stealing an idea if I give credit, and the person who originated the idea is sharing it freely.
No single teacher can always be the perfect creative force who whips up an appropriate and effective solution to every teaching dilemma. We educators work best when we work together…or we at least share. At its core, sharing is what this blog is all about, so here is a great idea for your next parent/teacher conference. I just finished mine.
Thankfully, at my school we really hold parent/teacher/student conferences; the student does most of the talking. In the past, I have always been a bit flummoxed as to how to get every student to talk precisely and honestly about his or her class work. My excelling students spoke articulately about their work, but my struggling students…well…struggled to pinpoint what they needed to do to improve.
This last time around, however, I stole an idea from my colleague that worked perfectly. You should steal it, too. Here is the explanation video he sent to us: Continue reading
I am jealous of my computer; it never feels stress. I do…way too often. And, way too often my stress is related to my inefficiency at providing timely, specific feedback to my students. Don’t get me wrong, I know I give meaningful feedback, but I wish it was all I ever did.
I am excited, then, when technology can help me out. When teachers outsource instantaneous feedback to a computer, the effect can be powerful, especially in areas like vocabulary acquisition. Language teachers understand that vocabulary expansion can be a grand equalizer, helping students rapidly improve other skills. Wide-ranging, free choice reading is my favorite way to help students acquire new vocabulary, but I also use some excellent web tools.
I am currently enamored with Membean (an online vocabulary system.) This post, however, is about an older love: Quizlet.
Both systems are effective ways to let technology offer timely and plentiful feedback. Each system also allows for students to engage in individualized and constructivist learning while freeing the teacher to offer differentiated, data-driven support. Continue reading
I would tell you how I incorporate vocabulary in my English classes, but I’m betting you already know. Chances are we pretty much do the same thing. This spring I did something different. Flipping a classroom is not really about turning lectures into videos, it’s about freeing up class time for more one-on-one interaction with students. Here’s one way I’ve done this.
Replacing a whole class vocabulary list with Membean.com was the most successful experiment of the school year. My students learned at least twice as many words, and they learned these words more effectively. I saw the language appear in their writing and speaking with more frequency and accuracy, and the students felt more prepared for standardized tests. I loved the free trial so much, I convinced my colleagues to use it, and next year we will pay for a school-wide subscription, which will cost us a little less than last year’s workbooks.
Membean is an engaging, self-paced online learning environment that allows for multiple modes of learning. It gives students more control over and accountability for their learning, and it provides teachers rich data that more accurately gauges mastery than any weekly vocabulary quiz ever could.
I know, I know…I sounds like they are paying me, but they’re not. I just know this product works really, really well, and I want a bumper new crop of logophiles out there.