Friday, May 16, 2014

"Smart board, Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow..."

I love my Smart Board. I love the lessons I can create with it, the games I can share with my students and the presentations I can make. I always make sure there are extra light bulbs for the projector in case it breaks. Heaven forbid I go a couple of days without standing in front of the class using it...

Needless to say, I have not "powered up" this machine the last two weeks. No, it works fine. I have just committed myself to more project based learning with my students. During the last two weeks, I have had students throwing a Frisbee to calculate their experimental probability, a group shooting baskets with a Nerf ball for their Probability Project and another group with markers on their hands from making their game!

That is right, I have tried to create more of a Maker Space in my room the last two weeks. After spending some time reflecting, I have created a list of tips or suggestions for anyone attempting this:

1. You can not worry about noise: They will laugh, talk, giggle. But, as long as they are productive, I am okay with it.

2. Do not try and clean up until the end of the day: Early on, I tried to clean up my room throughout the day. I quickly realized I was missing interacting with the students. That's my job, right?

3. Apologize to the custodian. Repeatedly: Things will not be as neat as they were earlier in the year. Wear it like a badge of honor.

4. Know where you want them to go upon completion: Be prepared for the group that finishes in half the time. Know how they can extend the project. Or better yet, let them figure that out for themselves. For example, I asking a couple of 8th Graders today about the Science Fair, they began researching the idea of creating a school app!

5. Be a good swimmer: It is tougher to swim with your students than stand and serve as a lifeguard!

6. Provide them with steps (dates) to complete parts of the project by: This will help the student(s) that struggle(s) with time management.

7. Be flexible: Know what you want them to demonstrate to show understanding. Do not care so much what medium they choose to do so.

8. Be able to juggle well: You may need to be working with a group reinforcing a skill while listening to another group work out some struggles while finding your stapler that a group needs to use!

9. Be prepared. For most things: Understand that somethings will arise that you did not expect. Regardless of how well you planned.

10. Be well rested: Planning for a day where I am at the front of the room does not even come close to how tiring it is after "swimming" with your students for the day.

11. Still allow redoes/retakes: I have had several students take my feedback and alter their presentations to show a higher understanding of the concepts. I loved it!

Now, I still plan on using my Smart Board. I am not going to have it removed from my room. Come to think of it, I will be powering it up next week...for my students to give their presentations on a Recreational Center they are pitching! May have to dust it off before the students get in that morning.

Did I leave anything off my list? I am really excited about the changes taking place in my room. My students are working and creating this late in the year. I am learning (slowly) how to scaffold from the lessons to extend the learning experience further. Would love your feedback/suggestions on this.


1 comment:

Jasper Fox Sr. said...

Love the enthusiasm in this post Jim! What a great list of points to remember when shifting the focus of ones classroom away from the teacher and onto the students! I'm sure that through these experiences you are giving your students many more of them will not only understand the concepts today, but will be gaining a passion for the topic that will carry on for a long time.