Friday, January 21, 2011

Can We Do This Everyday?

Don't you love it when you hear this? It's a magic little 5-word phrase that says to me, "Yep, you pulled it off today!" For someone whose goal is to inspire students to learn for the sake of learning, and to teach them that LEARNING is FUN, this magic phrase is music to my ears. 

In a world of high stakes testing, report cards, and higher standards (accountability), I sometimes worry that my instruction tends to lean toward the "preparing for the test" end of the spectrum. To counteract this, I strive daily to incorporate "fun" activities, keep students engaged using multi-sensory, interactive lessons, and provide choice within their independent work. 

So, what brought about the magic phrase? A science lesson about vertebrates and invertebrates. My student teacher and I front-loaded some of the content information during small group reading this morning, using our science leveled readers, so during science today I set up rotating stations: 

1. Streaming online Bill Nye Invertebrate video
2. Cute flipchart on Promethean board about vertebrates/invertebrates that students went through without my help.
3.  With me: Students were given play-dough and told to build a person as tall as possible and see if it would stand on its own (of course it wouldn't). Then they were given toothpicks to be used as backbones and they repeated the activity. We discussed the differences between vertebrates and invertebrates. 

And the best part of all, is that after it was over and we met as a whole group to discuss what they learned, the students mentioned ideas that I probably wouldn't have even covered if I had lead the lesson in a "traditional" way. I really feel like today I met the needs of my diverse learners, leaving me with the question,

Can we do this everyday?


  1. Your class sounds wonderful. What a great feeling when all kids are actively engaged and enjoying the learning. They must love you! Thanks for the video link. I am going to use the Bill Nye erosion video.Where did students watch it? On individual computers? Curious, what are flipcharts? I have a SMARTboard.

  2. Thanks! Its a journey every day. Most days are great...some days I need to do better. For the video, I plugged in my listening center headphones into the computer (you know, the box that will allow about 8 headphones at once), and the group watched and listened on one of the classroom computers. Flipcharts are Promethean's version of presentation software. I think that they can be converted to Smart files because I am able to convert Smart to flp. If you want to give it a try, I've got several of them on my website here:

  3. I find kids learn best when it doesn't feel like learning. The more experiential and interdisciplinary (mixed subject matter) it is, the more like real life it is. When kids can participate with their own ideas and discussion they own the learning and are more engaged.



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