Monday, January 08, 2007

Old dog learning new tricks

Isn't it amazing how sometimes when you try something new, something you expect to fail and blow up in your face, but you try it and are stunned by how well it works. Today I tried something I had never done before with my eighth graders. Instead of standing up and going orally over three "important" PowerPoints we needed to cover at the start of class I gave them the option of looking at them on their own. I know that sounds like a recipe for disaster, especially with a group that can be talkative and hyper at the drop of a hat. But it worked!! Of course I offered a big carrot, earphones, after a small discussion of responsiblity they could listen to music while they watched the PowerPoints on their own and give me a paragraph summary of each in Microsoft Word, (Same document). I had read some blogs about how a way to increase student learning was to enable students with choices and I thought I would try this with my 8th graders. Am I Suprised! Not only did they get busy and spend most of the time actually watching the PowerPoints and writing their summaries, but I had some students that I know are not the best readers actually ask me about some words (something they had never done in the past.)I kept an eye on the class everyone was staying on task working on the job and almost all of them got two of the three PowerPoints done in one day. If I had done it orally we would have completed one a day barely. Skimming some of the summaries that they wrote,the summaries are better than what I would get the old way too. All it took was linking the PowerPoints to my website and some 99 cent earphones, go figure. The more activities I pick up from reading the blogs online the more excited I get. My classroom is evolving and I l-i-k-e it.

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