Doing More or Doing Some Things Differently?

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image source: http://www.etsy.com

My partners and I have been noodling around with the ides of “less is more” in the context of education, but most especially when it comes to teaching and learning.  In fact, we’ve facilitated several discussions and workshops with teachers and learners from around the world, centered on the idea of Less (Teaching) Is More (Learning). 

Thinking about our educational landscape and the wide range of things pulling at our time and attention, it’s not a wonder why even the smallest shifts often seem nearly impossible.  Are we constantly trying to do more, or are we working to do some things differently? Is there a time when each has merit?

Please consider and share your efforts just over the past few months…

Doing More:
– What are you doing more of?
– What are your students doing more of?
– To what benefit?
– At what cost?

Doing Some Things Differently:
– What are you doing differently?
– What are your students doing differently?
– To what benefit?
– At what cost?

 

179 comments to Doing More or Doing Some Things Differently?

  1. Suzie, Shannon, Kendra, Amanda, Debbie says:

    Teachers are doing less direct instruction, less detailed lesson planning and less grading of papers. On the diagonal, students are doing more setting of agendas, showing ownership for planning time and meeting goals, more perseverance, more learning to be honest and friendly critics, more research, more paraphrasing, more problem solving and more self-evaluating.
    Students are doing less listening to me lecture and talk and less following specific instructions of what to do and where to do it. Teachers on the diagonal are doing more assisting student directed activity, more one on one conversations and conferences, more reserving technology, more feeling impressed with the effort and outcomes of my students and more shaping thoughts and coaching versus direct instructing!

  2. sewilkie says:

    What QUESTIONS have surfaced as a result of your thinking and discussions about this?

    • lauren.ewald says:

      We were wondering how to find balance between the teachers and students doing more work so that not everyone is overwhelmed and the students are still benefiting?

    • Suza says:

      How can you maximize student center learning when you begin a new unit and you do not want to over-lecture?

    • Curtis George says:

      Elaine Sorsby, Becky Mustachio, and Curtis George:

      Technology:
      Blessing and a curse
      Process vs. purpose vs. product vs. tool
      don’t forget creativity

      Students:
      asking the right questions
      right task to find answers
      what do they identify with? tool or content?

      Curriculum:
      classroom materials to support the actions?
      support for teachers in creation of materials?
      differentiation?

      Process:
      are we supposed to have one?
      backwards planning

      Management:
      looks different for each teacher
      student has responsibility for time management

      Pedagogy:
      allowance of students to be involved in the process
      one class or teacher isn’t going to be like the next

    • John says:

      How can vertical teaming be done effectively?

      Giving up control is difficult for teachers and taking that control is even more difficult for students, so how do we arm them with the grit/resolve/motivation to successfully take the reins?

    • AliceD says:

      How do we help students to monitor their own persistence and work ethics? How do we help students to monitor the use of their own technology for productivity instead of just entertainment?

  3. sewilkie says:

    SBISD teachers considering the diagonals:

    – the less we as teachers do, the more the students seem to be doing
    – shifting responsibility from teacher to the student
    – provides more time for teachers to conference 1:1 w students
    – as the teachers do less lecturing, planning minute-by-minute, stand & deliver, students called to do more higher level thinking; learning may increase
    – less doesn’t always mean less work or less of an experience
    – less traditional work/practice on teachers does not necessarily mean less work
    – facilitating learning is not “less” work – more time spent observing, need to be more aware of what you’re doing
    – “freeway lesson plans” do not work; can’t fly by the seat of your pants but you need to have several plans (A,B,C…) on the ready and be far more flexible than ever before

  4. Lauren says:

    I’m being more metacognitive, and sharing and reflecting on that metacognition and learning process with the students. My students are being more reflective of their learning process as well. I now see students applying these metacognitive skills across multiple areas in the school day. I find it beneficial because it is teaching students to learn, rather than teaching students content. It’s a struggle, though, because it takes time and practice to introduce such a new skill. It’s hard to take away from other important areas of learning throughout the day.

    I’m incorporating reflection regularly in a variety of contexts, which requires students to think about what they have learned and set goals for themselves. Goal setting has kept a number of students motivated and gives them a purpose each day.

  5. Shannon says:

    I find I am spending more time conferencing with students to learn more about their thoughts, challenges, and goals. The benefit is that I feel like I can see them growing as learners. It also helps me see students who may be veering off track, and help redirect them. The cost is time, always the issue! The students are spending more time considering and thinking about their own learning. I have always wanted to do more of this in the past, but this framework has helped me ensure it gets included each day. Again the cost is just the time it takes to model at first, and then providing them the time.

  6. CCioni says:

    We are doing more genuine reflection in our classroom. I have seen that student reflection has led to several A-Ha’s for them. It’s not enough to assume they all get it. The thinking out loud, either through blogging or discussion, often leads to students learning from each other. One student’s A-Ha helps another student discover or think about their learning in a different way.

  7. Laurie says:

    We are doing more of and differently:
    • Reflections- digging deeper!
    • Questioning- identifying the various types of questions
    • Valuing other’s opinions and accepting feedback
    • Modeling
    • Conferencing with students about their learning
    To what benefit: Increased awareness of their own learning and thought processes, trying to figure out “how” things work and that learning continues, students feeling empowered and confident to be experts.
    At what cost: ??? Currently I feel the benefits outweigh the costs…

  8. Jen says:

    • I am trying to provide more opportunities for students to take on leadership roles in the classroom. When this happens, the teacher’s role and/or workload do not necessarily decrease, but becomes one of facilitator/coach.

  9. Kristen says:

    • Students are asking more questions.
    • Students are persisting when frustrated.
    • Students are seeking sources outside of the classroom.
    • We have spent some of our content time learning about questioning, giving feedback, reflecting.
    • Students are applying these questioning, documenting and reflecting skills across content areas.

  10. Nashwa Mekky says:

    I am working on becoming more of a facilitator by extending students’ thinking and ideas through questioning and prompting, so that students feel they own their own thinking. Students who feel that they, not me, are in the driver’s seat, are likely to increase their level of engagement, and their motivation is so much higher than if the lesson was teacher directed.

  11. KWilliams says:

    Doing More & Differently:
    I am doing more student questions and exploration in my class. I am allowing students to end the day with questions and to pick up the next day still exploring these questions. My students are engaged in asking questions and figuring out where they need to go to answer their questions. Benefits… student engagement! Cost.. There isn’t enough time!!

  12. Jenny Patton says:

    *I am allowing my students more time to explore topics of choice on their own.

    *Students are choosing topics to research and choosing the way they want to go about it and what mode they want to present it in.
    *The benefit is that students are more invested in things they want to research and take more ownership in the research and product.

    *At times it works well, there are times students get off track and need more direction in their researching.
    *I am doing less actual lecturing and teaching TO or AT the students, and allowing for more self-discovery.
    *I am trying to allow students more time to do independent research.
    *The benefit for students is taking more ownership but the drawback is that they can get off topic, not research constructively, or choose a topic they know too much about.

  13. Colette says:

    I am working more to put the responsibility of learning into the students’ hands. The students are letting their curiosity drive their learning and I am trying to help guide their learning by asking the right questions. At times, it can be difficult for both the students and I, to encourage them to persevere and keep trying to find their answer independently. The students are much more “tech” savvy and enjoy finding new ways to demonstrate their learning. I am learning a lot from them.

  14. Kristen says:

    Doing More:
    – What are you doing more of? observing, assisting, having discussions with students, scaffolding instruction
    – What are your students doing more of? being engaged in learning tasks, researching, reflecting
    – To what benefit? learning to evaluate websites and sources,
    – At what cost?

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    – What are you doing differently? stepping back
    – What are your students doing differently? emphasis on the process, not the product
    – To what benefit? excited about learning tasks
    – At what cost? leaves less time for science/social studies instruction

  15. Kris says:

    In my classroom, we are doing a lot more reflecting/feedback. Modeling is so important, though! That’s something that I have realized is necessary. It gives students a better understanding of effective feedback. We are also dedicating more time to reflecting upon the process, describing both intended and unintended outcomes. The feedback and reflection pieces are happening more naturally as students work on different projects or work with partners/groups. They are becoming more reflective of the process involved, how to resolve issues, and who/where to find resources.

  16. Brian says:

    We are working on questioning strategies much more, as well as documenting and reflecting. We have also worked on peer feedback, and having students model questions for others. The modeling from students is often times more relevant and helpful than teacher modeling.

  17. Gena says:

    That is my goal…I am rethinking how to make the wiki I set up relevant and more accessible to my tutoring group because of two challenges:
    – short time with them twice per week – the nature of flexible grouping, since we collaborate with their classroom teacher and change groupings according to their needs
    – since the group is bilingual, I’m in the process of learning how to embed Spanish symbols that add easy access to usage.
    I’m thinking that relevance to the classroom for the kids to use the wiki during their school day is key.

  18. Anna5 says:

    I am glad to say that I am using more technology in my classroom and blogging but I need to find time to do more. My students really like blogging and ask when we can do it again. Great time by all with all the learning!

  19. kenc says:

    When it comes to something that takes tons of practice in literature class (read: inferring theme), we’ve been downsizing to poetry.

    It’s quick, nimble, and effective. Unlike, say, a novel, poems can be read and reread in one class sitting, thus allowing kids time to write or have academic conversations about what the author’s purpose might be.

    • sewilkie says:

      Thank you for your post! This is a great example of “less” being “more”! Leveraging quick, nimble and effective activities to engage students as critical thinkers (connectors, questioners, collaborators, creators…?) of content.

      From your post, it sounds like your students might be doing “more” thinking, sharing and reflecting about a set of things along with the poetry (writing, questioning, inferring, listening, connecting and/or building on the ideas of others, teamwork, more…).

      In this context, what kinds of things do you see yourself doing more?

      What are each of you doing “less”?

  20. Sally says:

    What are you doing more of?
    I am videoing my students and their learning more. After introducing Educreations to my class, they made learning videos in my classroom as well as at home. they created their own Educreations accounts at home and went to work creating! I am also releasing some of my instruction activities or control on my blog to them. They are beginning to write comments about their learning instead of me.
    – What are your students doing more of?They are discussing and helping out each other more.
    They are making their own videos on Educreations. They have even gone home, made their own accounts on Educreations.com and continue to make more videos. Teaching their tech buddies gave them a sense of empowerment as well.

    – To what benefit? This enhances the accountability of their learning, and giving them ownership of their learning. They are reflecting more on their learning and appreciating it more. They are seeing the validity of their work.
    – At what cost? Time! I do find myself behind in science.

    • Megan says:

      What a great idea! How are your kids sharing these Educreations with an audience? Can they get feedback from a larger audience?

  21. Cecelia says:

    I am doing more prep work to make sure that students have a smooth experience diving into whatever technology application we’re using.

    For example:
    Is there a login? I pre-prepare it on a card for them to refer to.
    Is there a click-through process to get to where we’re going? I either model that ahead of time or make a slideshow that they can view to walk them through it.

    I am doing more thinking about what activities would be best approached with the use of technology vs. which should be done “the old fashioned way”. I deliberately avoid using technology for technology’s sake.

    MY STUDENTS are doing more thinking, more team-building and developing leadership skills. I think that the way that I have set up their activities (which are 3:1 ration students to devices whenever possible) empowers students to take on a leadership role on their own initiative and trudge through these activities with less and less spoon-feeding by their teacher (me).

    The benefit is, of course, that the students are doing more higher-level thinking and learning and are developing leadership skills. For me, the benefit is that DURING class, I float more as a facilitator while the students are there. I like this benefit despite the time that this takes a lot more front-loading time and effort on my end.

    The cost is that I feel that I am covering less of my curriculum, and this is scary. Because I only see my students once per week, this is a trade-off I feel forced to make. Sometimes pulling off these classes where students are using technology devices means that I have to give up 30%-40% of the classtime to get everything up and running.

    HOWEVER, I feel that the more that I do this, the more that ALL of us do this, the less time that all will take. Additionally, I am seeking ways to have a deeper, richer lesson that DOES incorporate more curriculum within one assignment/project. In other words, one assigment/project will meet multiple TEKS objectives.

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    I am using Edmodo to introduce students to new technologies and to communicate with me. I am letting go of certain concerns I have with time and view what I’m doing as an investment of time.

    My students are communicating on Edmodo and learning how be good digital citizens. They are learning how to follow through on certain directions that walk them through technology applications, and they are being held accountable for following those directions.

    Students are really loving the opportunity to shine and establish themselves as tech-savvy, and this has been a very good experience to teach them about being a good digital citizen in a school-supported environment.

    Some students have not been role-model citizens in their various postings and have had to have consequences. Ultimately, though, this is a good thing in the long run.

    • Erika Rodriguez says:

      The time investment now will definitely payoff soon! Keep it up! 🙂

    • Krystal says:

      So true! –> “HOWEVER, I feel that the more that I do this, the more that ALL of us do this, the less time that all will take.”
      As students become more versed in the life long skills and more comfortable, it will be like we never went through this painful transition period.

  22. Michelle says:

    Doing More:
    – What are you doing more of? I am giving kids more freedom in their stations than I have done before. I’m also using other platforms other than edmodo and google docs such as pinterest as the major teaching tool.
    – What are your students doing more of? Students are having more opportunity to work at their own pace.
    – To what benefit? There is a more relaxed atmosphere. Students have more opportunity to conference with me about their reading/writing.
    – At what cost?

  23. Blake says:

    Doing More:
    I am learning about more new and engaging sources of technology for my students and I to use in my classroom. My students are using a LOT more technology and the lessons are more hands-on. The students love technology- I mean they already eat, sleep, breathe technology- so this is more intriguing to them. I am thankful to work for SBISD since they provide technology for students to use!

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    I am doing more student-centered instruction instead of teacher-centered instruction. This allows students to learn from each other and take away more from these lessons. It is fun and encouraging to see my students ask each other questions and provide feedback to each other.

    • Michelle F says:

      Technology is highly engaging and as you said, they already have the devices with them, so they might as well use them in a productive manner. How do you balance consumption of information through technology with production and collaboration given time constraints? Have you discovered activities which allow students to accomplish things which may have been impossible without technology? And as your students lean more on each other for information, what is the teacher’s role in helping them to grow?

  24. Jennifer Brown says:

    Doing More:
    I am spending more time thinking and planning how to make my students do more of the thinking and working. The students are doing more reflecting. Whether it be in pencil/paper format or on our class blog. I feel like the student reflection piece helps seal their learning into their brain forever.

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    I am trying to let go of some of the control of the blog. I am also trying to not complain about things I cannot control, i.e. TIME!The kids seem more motivated to share their learning with each other and the world through our class blog.

    • Erika Rodriguez says:

      Yay for reflection!:) That takes their learning to a higher level and allows them to truly think about the process. The time piece will get easier. Once the students become more familiar with the process they will get faster and it will move seamlessly.

    • Krystal says:

      I completely again with your take on reflection sealing it into their brains forever. Have you looked at digital portfolio options? I have teachers who are using Google Presentation or Evernote to have students create portfolios that they revisit throughout the year to reflect on their artifacts. I loved their end of year responses to beginning of the year artifacts–very revealing about what stuck and didn’t.

  25. Mario Romero says:

    Networking has become very efficient for my students this year. By using Edmodo, students have discovered a new way to share and receive resources. Our edmodo group has become the hub of networking for all our science-related activities this year. The next step in this quest is to have students create the assignments they will have their peers work on. For the last couple of months, I have been creating surveys where they have to share responses on edible science concepts. My vision now is to have them create the assignments, and posting them on our network page.

    Here is a sample!

    https://docs.google.com/a/springbranchisd.com/forms/d/14UICEm0nZF07InYF-xxYx81sjYVIDzWOs6DUwSNX9U8/viewform

  26. Sarah says:

    I am doing more goal setting with this process. I find myself being more targeted with my goals for learning.

    My students are definitely doing more reflecting this year. I have had to slow my pace down on the curriculum in order to provide them with the time to reflect, but I find it important for creating life long learners. My students are taking more ownership and I am learning to let go a little to let them reflect.

    The benefits of student reflection are numerous. Students can help each other when they struggle with something. Students post their notes and they share their learning with others. Students are learning to take their own notes, and this is creating more ownership of their learning. The main challenge is that students are not all on the same page. As with any learning, some students are going to naturally progress where others will need more time. My hope is they can help each other to think deeply.

    • Michelle says:

      I agree – I am also doing more goal setting this year. I feel more conscious about my planning and about moving forward in my instructional techniques.

    • Krystal says:

      I can tell that the things you are doing more of and differently this year has impacted your classroom climate. You are excited to be there, and excited about the great things that are happening, and it is spilling over into the class psyche.
      We need more focus on creating “life long learners”. There would probably be less conflict about the things that we are trying to implement if we all were looking at the big picture instead of just the end of our school year!
      Keep it up. You are making great strides and I love working with you!

    • MARGIE says:

      I have noticed that the climate reflects a great deal of confidence in your teaching and and in the approach students are taking in their learning. I think this is a direct result of your classroom goal setting, focus, and reflection. This confidence is that fuel needed for life long learning!

  27. Karen says:

    Doing More:
    – What are you doing more of?
    Analyzing blogs and comments
    – What are your students doing more of?
    critically reading posts and replies.
    – To what benefit?
    I’m not sure yet.
    – At what cost?
    We are taking time away from reading books and working on other curriculum and lessons.

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    – What are you doing differently?
    thinking about effective ways to use technology and questioning whether technology is adding to the learning or just packaging it in a pretty was
    – What are your students doing differently?
    Posting replies on Edmodo with more substance, reading each others replies, and using Edmodo as more of a discussion tool between each other
    – To what benefit?
    Seeing blogs and Edmodo as a group discussion instead of responding to just the teacher (responding to a teacher post without reading replies of any peers)
    – At what cost?
    We are taking time away from reading books and working on other curriculum and lessons.

    • Megan says:

      I see a lot of benefits to what your kids are doing. They are learning skills in both reading critically and in writing for an audience and with a purpose. They are valuable lessons even if they are different than the norm.

      • Karen says:

        It is hard to see the benefit during the process. What my kids are producing isn’t the quality that I hope for so it is hard to see the benefit.

  28. Peggy says:

    Doing More:
    – What are you doing more of?
    – What are your students doing more of?
    – To what benefit?
    – At what cost?

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    – What are you doing differently?
    – What are your students doing differently?
    – To what benefit?
    – At what cost?

    I am trying out new teaching practices that has made me feel like a new teacher all over again. The benefits of these new practices are that I am stepping out of my box!!! The only cost is that I am not living in my comfort zone but change is not always comfortable at first.
    The way in which my students have a group discussion around a text is completely different. My entire classroom discussion is different from what I have ever done before. I am not putting myself in charge but rather handing the reigns for class discussions over to the children. The benefits are that my children are more in charge of their own learning than before. This is a bit scary but so far they are living up to my expectations!

  29. Patty Aucock says:

    I am allowing more freedom of choice with my centers. My students are beginning to make choices as to what they need to focus on and what they need to choose that will better facilitate their learning.
    My students are creating products that show their ability to understand the content without pen and paper.

    • Michelle says:

      How do you deal with any kids who don’t make good choices? What are you doing while the kids are in stations? How are you monitoring that kids are doing what they are supposed to? Sometimes it is tough when they are using technology (I see headphones in your room!) to know that they are on task. I think about that in my room often…

  30. Ron says:

    Doing More:
    – What are you doing more of?
    I’m allowing the students to have choices in content and how they show that they know the content. They even get to choose the order of the content.
    – What are your students doing more of?
    Taking ownership of their learning and applying it to their lives.
    – To what benefit?
    They are getting a sense that even easy work is not easy. Real learning takes place when you actually thought about it not just when you get a good grade.
    – At what cost?
    I guess I’m losing time to lea true. I don’t miss that.

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    – What are you doing differently?
    I’m planning more and answering more individualized questions.
    – What are your students doing differently?
    Internalizing their learning because the content is specific to them.
    – To what benefit?
    They feel individual successes.
    – At what cost?
    It’s more work for them as we’ll but they don’t mind it because it’s helping them in the real world not just for a grade.

  31. Cristina Gossett says:

    Being in a grade level with younger students, you tend to always want to take control of lessons and situations. Sometimes guiding students for me means taking control to get the outcome I want. I am doing more “letting go” than I am “taking control”. My questioning is becoming more higher level, so that my students are thinking more and taking chances on situations.
    When I first started this journey, I had a “BIG PLAN” and quickly realized my plan was too big. I have started with the basics. I am still in the early stages of my project. My first step was to help my students create their Edmodo accounts. 90% of my students have completed this.
    I am still struggling with time and when to keep adding technology in the mix.

    • Ron says:

      I don’t think we ever outgrow letting go of our classes. I teach seniors and I fear if I let go too much the will go crazy.

    • Erika Rodriguez says:

      Starting with the basics is a great plan. You will get there slowly, and feel more comfortable letting go once you start to see how great of an impact it is making on the kids. Keep it up, you will get there!

  32. Veronica and Christina says:

    Doing More:
    – What are you doing more of? I am trying to have the students create things on their own. I tell them what we are working on and then they create the product they turn in. Sometimes I require them to use a specific tool/resource, but I also have let them choose how they want to turn it in.
    – What are your students doing more of? They are choosing to use more technology versus pencil/paper.
    – To what benefit? They are becoming more proficient with the technology and hopefully become a little more aware of the fact that people see/read what they post.
    – At what cost? Time…sometimes it takes a while for them to finish their projects and I feel like it’s too much time.

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    – What are you doing differently? I can’t really think…I am not focusing so much on the TEKS, since I am an elective. This allows me to not be as stressed and not feel like I am “wasting” time. I know it’s not wasting time, but last year I would feel that way. Don’t get me wrong, I still teach what needs to be taught, but in a more relaxed way.
    – What are your students doing differently? Some of them do a great job, but others barely turn anything in.
    – To what benefit? It’s allowing the students to be in a more relaxed atmosphere.
    – At what cost? Not following the district curriculum plans to the tee…

    • Cecelia says:

      I have had the same concerns regarding time, but I’m trying to let go of my worries particularly because I’m the music teacher and just have a little more flexibility in my curriculum. I also view that whatever I can accomplish will take a little off of those “tested” courses; their technology learning curve might be more pleasant because of what students have learned in my class (how to log in, different platforms for presentation, etc.)

  33. Kayman McIver says:

    More…my kids are doing a lot more: more thinking, more working, more questioning which does make me grade more, but it’s worth it. It’s also helping prepare for next year so the future will be easier. I have been having the students work outside of school to create visuals that I can use to teach next year. I also am having them get their notes outside of class through my website. This creates a lot of opportunity for more conversation and discussion.
    Less…I’ll have less work next year:)

  34. Lisa B says:

    – What are you doing differently? I am slowing way down with something I usually go very quickly on. We usually do the architecture project in a couple weeks. We dab into what it is, and create something fun. This year, we are slowing down to really delve into “planning.” How do we plan? Brainstorm, list, collaboratively asking questions to problem solve before actually putting down our official plans. We are reading, visiting websites, applying it to our own lives, and asking an expert on his ideas. The focus is not on the product, but the process.
    – What are your students doing differently? They are taking ownership of their thinking, really letting problem solving and planning merge in their thinking.
    – To what benefit? The benefit of actually talking to the architect who is building our school was huge! The students asked him how he problem solved to build different areas of our school as he planned. They took his ideas, melded it with what they had figured in their own designated areas of building their mini-schools.
    – At what cost? We are using technology for collaboration, reflection, and will create a product. But the final product is not focus. Our thinking is the focus, so we are getting a huge payout for this unit.

    • Megan says:

      This is an awesome project, and how exciting that the kids got to speak to the architect that worked on our school! Will the architect look at their finished projects as well? It would be great for them to have his feedback.

      • Lisa B says:

        This would have been the greatest conclusion. However, we were moving at this time and I couldn’t finish with is great piece of getting feedback from the architect.

  35. MWilson says:

    kDoing More:
    – What are you doing more of?
    Setting up spaces for student questioning
    Setting up opportunities for learning
    Tracking student learning

    – What are your students doing more of?
    Writing about learning
    More Students are doing math every day
    Communicating with each other
    – To what benefit?
    Math development
    Language development

    – At what cost? I am assigning fewer problems on worksheets
    Doing Some Things Differently:
    – What are you doing differently? I am using technology to capture student thoughts
    grading fewer work sheets
    – What are your students doing differently?
    thinking with each other

    – To what benefit?
    – At what cost?
    Less paper for others to see

    • Michelle F says:

      Most teachers really struggle with letting go of control and allowing more student to student interactions to take place, so it’s great that you’ve embraced this model in your classroom. As you move forward, how can you ensure that students are both challenging each other and providing support (explanations) when needed?
      Also, as you adjust homework assignments, how do the questions differ in number and content from a typical textbook assignment?

    • Karen says:

      I’m so excited that you have invited me back into your classroom! I look forward to seeing you and your students.

      What is the benefit for your students?

      Is there a concern about the cost – less paper for others to see?

  36. Brittany & Karen says:

    Doing More:
    – What are you doing more of?
    I am using more technology and creating more rigorous questions.
    – What are your students doing more of?
    The students are doing more hands on learning.
    – To what benefit?
    The benefit of more hands on learning is that the students own their learning.
    – At what cost?
    The cost is TIME!!!!

    • Michelle F says:

      Does “hands on” refer to use of technology or manipulatives? Can the two overlap? And as we consider moving to a flipped classroom, can student use of technology reduce some of the burden on the teacher to create new lessons? Can students determine what information is crucial for learning a new concept and craft good questions which will stump their classmates?

  37. Tiffany Gless says:

    What am I doing more of this year? I am integrating technology in many different ways. I am using Edmodo, educreations, powtoons and project based learning. My classroom is more student centered therefore they are responsible for their own learning. I am trying to be less teacher directed to give the students more time for small group, peer tutoring and share time.

    • wilson1m says:

      I am noticing your students are enjoying your class more that they enjoyed the class when the classroom teachers taught it. I am also noticing students being able to participate in class because they have courage.

    • Michelle F says:

      Because math lab is such an open curriculum, can students contribute to the creation of the curriculum based on their own knowledge of their learning gaps? To build their confidence, can they share their new learning with others, perhaps across grade levels? What would that look like?

  38. Hardies says:

    Doing More:
    – What are you doing more of?
    Challenging the students to find examples that correlate with the theme being discovered instead of only teacher generated.
    – What are your students doing more of?
    Self and group questioning the validity of self found examples that correlate with the theme being discovered.
    – To what benefit?
    To bring in various perspectives and/or types or literary elements that bridge learning across present and prior learning.
    – At what cost?
    Beginning – teacher = a lot of time to find resources and connections
    Middle(now) – teacher = a lot less time since it is student found and correlated/discussed for purpose/meaning

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    – What are you doing differently?
    Allowing more student input into the materials learned/used.
    – What are your students doing differently?
    More engaged since they are able to own the materials being discussed and show others how they feel it relates. We then discuss validity of the material to the topic.
    – To what benefit?
    Everyone’s – it gives students the opportunity to control their own learning by gaining a greater understanding of the materials since it is student generated/discovered.
    – At what cost?
    Now – None for the teacher

    • Krystal says:

      I’d love to see some examples of this. It would probably be hysterical to hear some of the connections that they make! Straight from the pages of Teen Beat… As cool as we are, we just aren’t hip enough to really get into their heads and make relevant connections. Or maybe that’s just me…

    • Michelle F says:

      An important part of our role as teachers is to encourage our students to look to themselves and the real world for the answers (Is this the best example? How do I know?, etc.), rather than relying on the nearest adult. Do you experience resistance from your students when you remove the scaffolding? Do they complain that you haven’t taught them this content, or do they just want to know what to do to get an A? How do we encourage students to embrace the questions? And to what extreme can we take this idea – can students create the questions themselves?

  39. Demi says:

    Doing More:
    – What are you doing more of?
    I am still in the early stages of creating my classroom blog and getting my homebound student an iPAD. I’m setting up a scheduled time to meet with our 2nd grade helpers to help us learn to take pictures of our work. In order to give students access, I’m working on the permission form for the students to post on our blog. With the help of the librarian at our school and my AP, I’m working on getting my homebound student an iPAD.
    – What are your students doing more of?
    My students are taking more control of their learning and have been sharing their work but only in the “old ways” as we bridge the gap to the “new ways.”

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    – What are you doing differently?
    Truthfully I have not really started to do things different in the way I was expecting. There is so much legwork to get out of the way before I even get to begin with my focus and goals. I am trying to change my way of thinking, however. In order to put all this into place, it starts with changing my thinking. It’s hard to release control of the classroom and put it back on the kiddos. This will be an ongoing work in progress in me as a teacher.

    • Erika Rodriguez says:

      I like the idea of you teaming up with 2nd grade. I think that will help you get things moving faster as the kids learn from each other. Try asking the kids what they would like to learn and what they already know. Their knowledge will spread quickly!

  40. Krystal says:

    *Please keep in mind that my “students” are my teachers.*

    Doing More:
    – What are you doing more of? I’m doing a lot more listening than I’ve ever done before. And a lot more listening while I sit on my hands. I’m the queen of clicking on a keyboard while someone is talking to me, and I’ve begun to realize that might come across as rude. I need to look and listen to the person to talking to me. I’ve also been doing lot more questioning–“how do you think you can do that?” “that sounds like a good idea, but could you do something to make it more _________?”
    – What are your students doing more of? I feel like my teachers are doing a lot more of the heavy lifting than they have in the past. I’m introducing some big ideas to them, but they are coming up with how to use it in the classroom. While I’m there to support, I’m not giving them lessons and ideas like I have in the past. I’m giving them a tool and asking them to brainstorm how to use it.
    – To what benefit? The teachers who have come up with ideas and implemented them in their classrooms have a much higher level of enthusiasm. They want to SHARE those experiences with everyone and their enthusiasm is catching!
    – At what cost? I think that I might have fractured some relationships (not broken, but not strengthened for sure) because they want to know what to do to get an A. It also has some stress cost for me–it is super stressful to not just tell them what to do!

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    – What are you doing differently? See above! The things I’m doing more of and having my teachers do more of, result from the fact that I’m doing things differently!
    – What are your students doing differently?
    – To what benefit?
    – At what cost?

    • Tori Mox says:

      I am amazed at how you give not only ideas but also energy too. I am super excited that I can bounce ideas off of you. I wish I had more time to investigate other possibilities.

  41. Susan says:

    Doing more: Slowing down, being thoughtful. As we comment on each others work through Google Apps, I find myself being one of the group, not the end all, be all evaluator.

    Doing differently: More willing to tweak plans and ideas based on what the students find interesting. Example: So you like communicating with your friends, let’s start a blog for that, so we can keep the slide show purely academic.

    • Krystal says:

      I’m glad you are open to tweaking your lessons and ideas. It has opened up a window for me to play with some ideas! Thanks for doing that differently!

    • MARGIE says:

      When you use your insights and willingness to tweak plans and ideas based on student need, you are taking your students to higher levels of learning and thinking while keeping them engaged and excited about the learning.

  42. Tori Mox says:

    More:
    Me: worrying, but seriously. I am doing more listening. I evaluate their responses and thinking in small groups for reading. I am trying to help them develop their thinking skills through speaking/listening. Modeling of tasks in real life-not prepared in advance
    Students: clarification of what they said, independent work with a rubric
    self reflection
    Differently:
    Me: projects that span across curriculum so I have more time
    Students: blogs and technology enhanced projects.

    • Krystal says:

      I do see you worrying more than usual, but I don’t think that your worrying is necessary. You are so strong in task analysis, that you almost always have thought through every possible scenario before you start the lesson. I love that about you, but I think that it causes you to have tunnel vision on the possible problems. Let them play and wiggle and fly without a safety net sometimes!
      I think that projects that span across curriculum are going to be making a comeback, there just isn’t going to be any other way to fit everything in and use next/best practices.
      I’m glad to have you on this journey. Your reflections are honest and refreshing!

    • MARGIE says:

      I love your commitment! I hope it is more thinking than worry. What you are doing with the students by having them talk about their thinking sounds so powerful. They are being reflective and collaborative, while thinking at higher levels. Cha-Ching!

  43. lena says:

    What are you doing differently?

    I’m still doing a lot of learning this year, and getting comfortable with some of the bigger goals for our campus/district. The difference is in consistency. Planning is a major focus on our campus this year, and I’m definitely able to attend more planning sessions, but I’m also doing more trainings which take me off campus. So I’m losing some time, but learning more. My hope is that the learning will cross over to the planning and to our campus goals in the form of sharing strategies and engaging staff development.

    – To what benefit?
    The benefit of all the trainings is that I learn more, and have a larger toolbox with which to pull from.
    – At what cost?
    I’m off campus more, which takes away my time working with teams.

  44. Melissa says:

    Doing More:
    My students are doing more of the technical troubleshooting on their blogs themselves. They are also helping each other. At the beginning of the year, I was the one who was definitely doing more of the troubleshooting and getting kids to access their blogs. By now, in the 2nd 9 weeks, the kids are much more self-sufficient and can get logged in, type a post, and log-out in under 15 minutes.

    With the students knowing the routine for blogging, I was able to create a new station for writing conferences. So now, I am doing more one-on-one instruction with students on their writing, while students are blogging or working on vocabulary.

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    I’ve always had station in my room, however I’ve never had stations that utilize technology! I’m excited about the progress in writing that my students have made in the first 9 weeks of school.

    • Ron says:

      There are more steps that can be had. (I don’t see you here at the January training.) So let see if you find this later.

  45. Esther Gibson says:

    EA is making me think more about my teaching and how I can stretch and grow the basic lesson to get students involved in their own learning. I have found beginning lessons with questions and asking higher level questions during instruction as well as allowing students to create their own higher level questions for the rest of the class takes us to a higher level of rigor and understanding. I am eager to incorporate more technology with lessons and let students can take more ownership of their learning.

  46. Gena says:

    In trying to do things differently, I continue to find myself doing more in two different ways: learning new technology or keeping up with updated technology, and learning how to make it relevant to student learning. ‘Seamless’ is a goal, but for now it’s more about purpose. That is where my focus is as I integrate the use of wikispaces with book club responses.

  47. fransonj says:

    What I am doing differently is assigning lessons requiring students to think for themselves or use critical thinking through technology and flip lessons. They are also working on communication skills by interacting/responding to other students on work posted or produced. This is a slow moving process so I am learning that it will take time so I need to “let go of the control” and just take it all in stride. Collaboration with other peers seems to have improved and is much more meaningful than me just giving them the answers or solutions.

    What I am doing more of is exploring with technology in different ways through flip lessons, Edmodo, stem scopes, Think Through Math, search engines, various tools for creating products, etc. I am somewhat new to technology so using it as much as I am is a HUGE change. I have found that there are glitches with each program/tech activity we utilize.

    • sewilkie says:

      As you design opportunities for students to think critically and more for themselves, what new opportunities surface for you as a learning facilitator?

      • fransonj says:

        I am really needing to open the doorway for more discussion. I am new to 5th grade so I am not as familiar with the curriculum especially with the science curriculum. I struggle with questions to ask the kids to promote higher level/deeper thinking but my team partner is really helping me with this. I look forward to next year and having more experience. I do research the topics and post questions the best that I can…it is the student’s answers that I am unsure so I often ask Holly, my team partner, for help/assistance.

    • Lauren says:

      You may be new technology, but you’re trying it all! I am so impressed!

  48. Wendy says:

    Doing More:
    – What are you doing more of?
    I am doing more research on blogs and stepping out of my comfort zone. I’m going to different blogs that I normally would not think I had the time for and I’m learning how to incorporate different things to make my blog better. I am also scheduling a technology time in my week that I devote to learning and improving upon anything “techy” that will enhance my learning in the technology world.
    – What are your students doing more of?
    Very soon my goal is to have students post comments to the Action Based Learning Blog.
    – To what benefit?
    The benefit of stepping out and doing this is very empowering and inspiring.
    – At what cost?
    The cost is time, but I think in the end it is time well spent.

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    – What are you doing differently?
    This is all different for me. In the past I would think I did not have the time to learn how to do something “techy”, but now I’m making the time and gaining the confidence to try new things.
    The benefits of stretching and growing in this technology world is a feeling of confidence.
    The only cost would be when there are glitches in technology and it slows down the process of completing the task.

  49. Anna5 says:

    I am doing more thinking about my lessons and where I want to take my kids to go as a child with the content and technology. The students are doing more thinking and they are more meaningful activities to stretch their learning. The benefit is that they will be more prepared for the next year with more critical thinking skills so that they are more prepared for life in education so that they will meet their goals. Am not sure what the cost is… since our district’s goal is to graduate more of our students from a higher institution. They will be that much more prepared for their academic career.

    I am doing more things differently by making sure that my students are exposed to more meaningful and more rigorous lessons and using technology on a daily basis to insure that they are learning new ways of doing things and looking at things. I will having my students to create more things using technology and sharing their work with others in their classroom and in the district. The benefit is that they will be more prepared for their journey of learning and eventually into their life.

    • Lisa B says:

      I so agree with you about the focus needing to be on the thinking and utilizing more meaningful activities. It’s so easy to just get caught up with the excitement of the technology itself. I have read some articles that call them “mind tools” They are just that tools for critical “thinking.”

  50. Eric Zulaica says:

    Doing More:

    I have been researching for better options my students to invest their time (websites, tools, programs), there are so many options out there that is difficult to find the right ones according to our plans and resources.

    My students are spending more time on the computers learning and creating products.

    Students are building technical skills to become a long life learners, they are more independents in the way they are obtaining information and using and exploring different options to present their work.

    Doing Some Things Differently:

    I had to modify my lesson plans to allow students to investigate in advance, increasing the participation in discussions. School devices are available all the time and are used for all content areas.

    Every student has a choice about where to go to find any information needed and have several options to share their products.

    • sewilkie says:

      I’m so EXCITED every time I see your students working with technology. The fact that 1st graders are so independent and growing so exponentially is truly amazing. I think that your having some students do some researching ahead of time is a great solution. Not only will that deepen the learning and discussion, but you are also pushing the children doing the research to be leaders and take control of the teaching. What an honor for them! I imagine that they all can’t wait for it to be their turn! 🙂

  51. Dr. Deborah Garza says:

    What am I doing more of this year with my third grade bunnies? My classroom warren is buzzing more because I am using more technology by creating prezis, finding interactive activities to include in my lessons, and exploring ways of incorporating more English daily.
    Since I wrote my doctoral thesis, many moons ago, I did have a section addressing singing and language learning. I have taken a more pro-active approach by using music and singing as a strategy of language learning. I have incorporated my mornings with songs that have lyrics on youtube: What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong, It’s a Beautiful Morning by the Rascals, and Lean on Me by Bill Withers. Every week there will a song to learn, a song to sing, and words in English to internalize.
    Talk about teaching language! My third grade bunnies are asking about the meaning of words and they love to sing (even the boys). Students are coming to my class before school to learn more songs.

    • Olga M says:

      Great,it sounds like you are addressing multiple learning styles in your classroom.

    • Kay Kennard says:

      Love hearing your little one singing. We can learn so much from music. I also love how you are integrating it with your poetry. Your kiddos have such a strong vocabulary in English and Spanish.

  52. amy says:

    Doing More: I am blogging more with students. Students are having more valuable conversations with each other through blogging. The benefits are I have more time for a one to one relationship with students. The cost is taking more of my personal time to visit site to reply to student blogs.
    Doing Differently:
    The students are questioning more and directing the learning. The benefits are more valuable conversations about subjects.

    • DRatnala says:

      I’m very proud of the leap you’ve taken this year with technology and your students. I was blessed to witness (and still do) your kiddos excitement about blogging. It is amazing to see how much more they are reading and writing because they are doing it digitally. It is also very interesting to see the growth in the depth of their questions. Keep up the great work!!! 🙂

  53. M.E. says:

    I am doing more of asking student input on how they want to show their learning. Seeking suggestions and ideas on how to do things. Having them do the explaining, presenting, and questioning. I’m seeking more collaboration among themselves.
    It does not come out perfect every time but I would have them analyze what is going well and what needs to be changed. I would also have to do a mini-lesson on a concept that I think would help them proceed with what they are doing.

    • Kayman McIver says:

      Have you challenged them to create the materials to teach the lesson? Even if it’s stuff to save for next year, they speak “student” and can communicate TEKS so much better than I can!

      • M.E. says:

        I think that is a wonderful idea! I think they could even implement the lesson by teaching it to a lower grade level or among their peers who had difficulty with the concept.

  54. Nancy Jackson says:

    Doing More:
    – What are you doing more of?…We are using more technology this year than last year in a more meaningful way.
    – What are your students doing more of?…My students are all blogging & communicating; Posting & Commenting on each others blogs. They are creating Prezis, FlipCharts, Graphs & uploading them on to their blogs. They are also creating their own questions to encourage more communication with one another.
    – To what benefit?…Students are gaining valuable knowledge on the technology tools/resources available to them. Learning how to use them at a quick pace.
    – At what cost?…We sometimes find ourselves behind in the curriculum.

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    – What are you doing differently?…I’m emphasizing/stressing more the importance of reflecting on our individual blogs. Using our individual blogs as place to reflect & document our learning.
    – What are your students doing differently?…They are reflecting more on their blogs rather than their journals, keeping a “digital notebook”. They’re branching out/experimenting more with different presentation tools/resources available. Using Prezi, FlipCharts, iPads & cameras, etc. in their assignments.
    – To what benefit?…Students are gaining vast knowledge of different digital tools available.
    – At what cost?…We don’t always have enough time to cover all subjects in one day.

    • DRatnala says:

      Your classroom and what you do with your students is always amazing to hear about and to see! I wonder what difference you have seen in your students and their understanding of their learning journey with them keeping their “log” digitally, rather than in a paper journal. Do you see more reflection? More celebration? More understanding of themselves as learners and where/how they grow?

      I celebrate you and your students for being risk takers. You – for making the time because you know of the value of what they are doing, even though you struggle at times to keep up with the curriculum. Your students – for trying new things and being reflective learners at such an early age. This is a lifelong skill! 🙂

  55. Rosella says:

    Doing More:
    – What are you doing more of?
    I am spending more time searching for ideas, sites and activities that my students can do using technology.
    – What are your students doing more of?
    They are experimenting with the use of technology and then teaching others what they have learned.
    – To what benefit?
    My students are becoming technology savvy. They are also enjoying learning in a new way.
    – At what cost?
    Time! Since it is new to most of them it is taking alot more time for them to complete an activity.

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    – What are you doing differently?
    We are doing student projects, presentations, and activities using ipads, or computers.
    – What are your students doing differently?
    Learning and sharing with the use of technology
    – To what benefit?
    They have feedback not only from me but from their peers.
    – At what cost?
    Time, since I only have 1 Ipad.

    • DRatnala says:

      This sounds really wonderful…especially that your students are receiving feedback from each other. So many times I have seen students have more “ahas” or finally grasp a concept, due to another student’s guidance. I understand and am sorry that time is a major factor. I wish so much that you could at least have enough iPads so that each table could have one to use. One is really difficult to manage. I’m really proud of you for still trying and pushing through!! 🙂

      • Rosella says:

        Thank you very much. Having more time and I-pads would make it run smoother and we could have more student products.

  56. Donna Cramer says:

    Lately, I have been giving more “wait time” to emergent readers who are problem solving on the run. It is evident that they are using the prompts that I have used to scaffold them while reading and they are using them independently.
    This practice is helping to increase their reading levels and make more confident readers.

    • Tori Mox says:

      Win-win situation. Good for you!

    • Olga M says:

      Problem solve is a key word here, I’m sure that will transfer into other skills in their classrooms.

    • Kay Kennard says:

      I definitely see a difference in our little ones who are emerging readers. They do see themselves as readers which is half the battle. Love how you use your IPad to let them see themselves and assess their own reading.

  57. Marcy Robinson says:

    Doing More:
    – What are you doing more of? I am doing more guiding and prompting this year. So, instead of saying “this is what you will learn about this…it’s “what questions do you have about this?” and then I can “guide” them to make sure we are covering the required TEKS.
    – What are your students doing more of? My students are doing more discovery of the content and presenting to one another. I am allowing them to find the answers to their own questions, instead of giving them a direct teach every day.
    – To what benefit? The kids are more engaged and it is causing more meaningful discussions in our classroom.
    – At what cost?

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    – What are you doing differently? I am letting go of some of the control. On our blogs, we are sharing things we learn or create.
    – What are your students doing differently? They are working together and realizing that they have more questions about certain content.
    – To what benefit? They are excited to learn together
    – At what cost? I am hoping there is no sacrifice to Benchmarks or standardized testing.

    • DRatnala says:

      It’s difficult for teachers to give up control and give the learning back to their students, most especially with all of the pressure on teachers to ensure their students pass the STAAR test. I applaud you for taking the risk and changing the way you teach and your students interact in the classroom. I truly believe that if you empower them and guide them, they will be even more successful in learning and on their STAAR test. Yay for you!!! 🙂

  58. Renee Mendez says:

    I’m doing more group work and allowing my students to come up with answers on their own instead of me just telling them what to do.
    The students are doing more of the work by coming up with the answers on their own. The benefit is that the students are taking more ownership of what they are discovering and they are starting to apply what they have learned in other situations.
    What I am doing differently this year is I am doing more group work and as problems arise we are discussing them as a class and coming up with solutions. The students are solving the problems within the groups and I am just facilitating. The students are usually able to come up with a variety of solutions and I can hear them applying their problem solving skills within their own groups.
    I’m not really sure their is a cost except for time. We have been working with this since the first week of school and will continue all year. As I said earlier not really sure it is a cost, if it is I think the cost is worth it!

    • moultona says:

      I can’t wait to see these students in the upcoming years. They are ahead of the game. Kuddos to you for letting go of the idea that your are the ultimate source of knowledge in your classroom.

    • Kay Kennard says:

      Angelique,
      This is exactly what are kiddos need. They need to do the heavy lifting and truly thinking and not just recalling information. I know that it is a big shift for our kiddos, but the more they do it the more comfortable they will be to be self directed.

    • Kay Kennard says:

      Renee,
      Just talking to your students I see a difference in their thinking and problem solving. Very proud of how hard you are working with your students to develop their understanding of how to look at their work differently.

  59. Rangel says:

    Doing More:
    – What are you doing more of?
    Thinking of ways to incorporate technology into my everyday classroom.
    – What are your students doing more of?
    Experimenting with technology in a way that requires them to have some ownership of what they have completed.
    – To what benefit?
    They are being shown ways to use technology to document their learning and share with the class.
    – At what cost?
    Time spent moving on in curriculum.

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    – What are you doing differently?
    Using technology more in the classroom to facilitate reflection and learning.
    – What are your students doing differently?
    Thinking of how they will show their learning digitally.
    – To what benefit?
    They are having to think about what they have learned and produced which make them have to think twice about what they have done.
    – At what cost?
    There is often some misbehavior or off task behavior.

    • Karen says:

      It is hard to determine if the benefit is outweighing the cost of moving through the curriculum I am having the same issue.

      • Rangel says:

        Tank you for your reply. I have just decided to take the time and then move forward. It can also count as a project.

    • DRatnala says:

      I’m so proud of you for taking the risk with all that you are integrating into your classroom this year! I’ve found that sometimes worthwhile things are very messy at first and we just need the grit and perseverance to keep on trying.

      Being able to teach 2nd graders how to really think about what they are producing due to their audience is HUGE!! Kudos to you!! You are really empowering them and teaching them so much more than just curriculum. 🙂

      • Rangel says:

        Thank you for your words of encouragement. They mean alot to me especially at a time when I am trying to navigate through this new territory.

      • Marcy Robinson says:

        Thanks, Deana. I have tried to look at it that way. Right now I am trying to balance a healthy amount of Project Based Learning with STAAR practice and remediation as well.

  60. Andrea says:

    My goal this year is to push the walls of my classroom farther and farther out. I have set up individual blogs for student to document their learning and respond and reflect on each others learning. My walls have easily been moved since I have 2 classes that can reflect and respond to each others learning. I have also connected with another 3rd grade class in another school district through Skype. This is another layer of moving beyond the traditional classroom walls. My hope is to introduce twitter as another tool to connect to others and for my students to feel more connected to the planet.

    • Lauren says:

      You have done a great job collaborating with others within and outside the school, and your students love it! I can’t wait to see you take this even further.

  61. Robin says:

    Doing More:
    I am doing more of releasing my control of the content to the students, and my students are doing more of the work in finding out about the content without me spoon feeding it to them. This has benefited both me and the students in ways I could have never imagined. Giving them the control has given them the power and autonomy of taking charge of their learning. I haven’t yet found that there is any cost to doing this. I like the fact that the kids are doing the working and I am just a guide on their journey.

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    I am looking at what I need to teach and what the kids need to know differently. I have found if I reverse the Bloom’s chart and start with the evaluation, the kids will retain more of the information and it becomes part of their knowledge bank. They in turn are now very excited to investigate new topics and be part of the decision making process. I can only see that this is a benefit to me. The students go home tired, but eager to find out more.

    • Krystal says:

      I think the collaboration is key. We have been having a little bit of conflict here and there on campus centered a little on technology usage, and I’ve noticed that my EA teachers feel comfortable sharing their feelings with each other. It’s nice to have a safe space.

      • Krystal says:

        Oops. That was for Lauren! Sorry Robin.

        I did want to comment on yours though. I love the term “spoon feeding”. If we spoon feed them forever, they will never learn to feed themselves. I fully believe that we have to teach them to learn for themselves. I can’t wait to hear more about your journey!

    • Lauren says:

      Your efforts this year have been amazing! You have taken a really big step. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the year goes for you.

    • Rian Evans says:

      Robin – have the students been able to uncover and adopt new research tools into their daily research? How has your approach broadened their abilities to locate and use credible materials?

    • Susan G says:

      I love the way you put this! Stepping aside is seems to be the key!

  62. moultona says:

    Doing More:
    I am doing more questioning and less direct instruction while the students are doing more inquiry and modeling at the benefit of students taking ownership of the learning and at the cost of less letter grades and less teaching time during the school day.

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    I am asking students about their thought process so they spend more time thinking about their learning /ideas before they share out loud to the benefit of becoming self directed learners and at the cost of quality versus quantity.

  63. Lauren says:

    Differently:
    I am seeing the teachers doing more questioning, allowing the students to discover the knowledge. From what I have observed the students have become more engaged. They see this type of learning as a challenge and retain more of the information.

    More:
    I am seeing the teachers collaborating more. They are working with others in the Early Adopter cohort and reaching out for help when needed. This collaboration breaks down boundaries in our thought.

  64. Rowena Hay says:

    I am posting links or video for students to view before a new concept is taught, allowing the students to begin learning / digging before they come to the classroom environment. It seems to utilize everyone’s time better by meeting the students’ needs where ever he or she may be.

    • Rian Evans says:

      Rowena – this sounds great! Are you able to monitor their understandings more effectively using this format? Also, are you seeing greater levels or interest in the content?

  65. brandy says:

    This is my first year and I have noticed that I am trying to let the kids explore more by asking the questions and then giving them more time to investigate. This means I am talking less (or trying to)and giving them more talk time. I have set up a Wiki where the students are able to watch videos of lessons so that they will be able to go back and review what was done in class.

    • Donna Cramer says:

      Brandy, I am giving more “wait time” with my struggling readers so that they can problem solve by going back to reread, thinking about the story and looking closely at the tricky parts. Sooo…. I am looking instead of talking.

    • Lauren says:

      This explore time is so important. The students will exceed your expectations. So proud of you!

    • Rian Evans says:

      Brandy – this is a great start! How has this new approach continued to evolve? Are you targeting a certain content or is it happening throughout the day?

  66. Robert Fleming says:

    I am attempting to do more of letting go and placing more work on the student. It has been frustrating because I am not seeing those immediate results that I would love to see (i.e. better quality or even turning in work). However, the students seem to be understanding that they are responsible for their own work. I have spent more time engaging students to ask questions for what they need. I have stressed that this a life skill that will help not only in 6th grade, but in their future. I have to sometimes pull myself back and not get too involved, or even take over. What I am learning is that when I am requiring them to ask the questions, they are learning very quickly they have to be specific.

    • Curtis says:

      Robert, I hate to give you more to do for my benefit, but could you provide a specific example of an assignment that you’ve released to students, over-involved yourself, and then stepped back. I’m curious to hear about the process, because student ownership was my “white wale.”

  67. Kenneth Jones says:

    Doing More:
    – What are you doing more of?
    Conferring with students about their interests and guiding their choices so as to meld their interests into curricular work.
    – What are your students doing more of?
    Thinking independently and slowly (sssllooowwwlllyyy) moving toward risk talking with their work?
    – To what benefit? So gratifying to witness and facilitate genuine engagement and listen to arguments about tone and theme and whether or not the identified exposition is sufficient…I love to hear academic language being used in conversation.
    – At what cost? Covering various aspects of the curriculum within the specified course and sope. Priorities and Choices…Signs and Wonders!

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    – What are you doing differently?
    Stepping back into delivering broad parameters vs. micro-management and guiding students toward out-of-the-box stepping, emphasizing creativity, saying YES to 99.999% of the “Can I do it this way?” questions.
    – What are your students doing differently?
    Working independently, talking to one another as resources for “information”, not relying on the teacher to answer all their questions.
    – To what benefit? Student Engagement, Application of 4 C skills: Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Creativity
    – At what cost? Curricular check off!

    • Curtis says:

      Ken, from reading your response I can’t imagine your personal struggle with micro-management. It’s an obvious testament to addressing a weakness because in all opportunities to chat with you, view assignments, your class (although rather unofficially), and talking to students they feel very safe and supported to THINK. I tend to think that this will speed up with time. You?

  68. Katrina stanfill says:

    I am doing more one-on-one conferencing with students to provide feedback on the work they are producing and encouraging them to become more independent in their writing and relying less on my feedback and to trust themselves and their peers feedback on their writing. I am pushing more of the work back onto the students once I have taught and modeled the lesson. My students are asking more questions but not questions that show their independence but what I want them to produce. The cost is they don’t seem to be growing and taking risks as writers.

    Initially after having the students continue to ask questions
    I started providing them with the answers. Towards the latter end of the first nine weeks, I started having them seek answers from themselves and their peers before coming to me for the answer. Eventually I sorted between the questions I needed to answer and the questions they could seek the answers themselves.

    • Curtis says:

      No concessions here Katrina! Your classroom culture is ripe for risk-taking and it’s a new responsibility for them. Don’t let them off the hook, but don’t keep yourself there either. This I feel confident is a matter of persistence and I look forward to the eventual success.

  69. sorsbye says:

    – What am I doing more of?: I’m having a very challenging year. I took over the role of department chair and we have three new teachers in our department this year. I never realized the importance of the DC role until I assumed that role – nor did I realize how time consuming it is. So…this year I’ve been doing a lot more just trying to keep my head above water and a lesson ready for the next day – not very 21st Century. I have continued to allow for student choice in projects where I ask them to demonstrate mastery of a certain skill set.
    – I think most of my students appreciate the ability to choose how they want to demonstrate mastery (i.e. how they want to do their project) – however, I don’t know that it has translated into improved end products.
    – I realize that there is a learning curve on allowing students to make more choices. It seems that the flow of the work on projects is better than last year, but once again, end products haven’t necessarily improved.
    – There really isn’t a cost associated with allowing the students to make choices about how they show what they have learned. However, there is a frustration level associated with not seeing quality work from students.
    – What are you doing differently? I am trying to be more thorough in my explanation of what I expect from students (even on small assignments) and what I envision the process to be. I am also have more random partnering of students – but making the partnering process a learning experience, too. (Less always working with your friends – who may or may not know anything)
    – Sometimes, I don’t think they realize that things are changing or that, at a minimum, I’m trying to make changes.
    – I think my better instructions are leading to smoother processes. I think the random partnering will allow for more and better opportunities for students to learn from / help one another.
    – More prep time.

    • Karen says:

      Loving student choice! Wondering if you and your students would benefit from a creating a rubric for their projects? Could there be models they could use as examples?

      Hang in there! Sure you are doing an awesome job as DC!

  70. John says:

    I am doing more project oriented work and asking students to do more of the thinking and work. I am doing more reflection on the value and success of the lessons that we are doing. The benefit of both of these is that students are creating a lot of material that other students can learn from. The cost is time. I am assuming that this is attributed to the implementation dip, and the time commitment will be reduced with student experience, but it takes a lot of time to turn the class over to the kids in that expectations need to be clear and modeled in order to get the quality of work that I would like. The quality is still not where I would like it to be, but I am hoping that this too will improve with time.

    • Curtis says:

      John, I spent more time than I wish to say teaching lessons without really thinking about how successful they were. So simple yet so profound (and also easy to overlook). What are your feelings about pacing? Are you meeting the objectives in a reasonable timeline, or is it slow? If off, do you expect it to improve.

  71. genamcgee says:

    In my classroom, I have students doing more thinking and questioning about content, especially its connection to current events. The benefit of this is that the students feel comfortable in class asking questions and want to know more. A couple of them always pull out their cell phones so they can see if they can find an answer right away. The cost though, it does take time, the students who haven’t gotten engaged yet are struggling with content anyways, and I’m worried about making sure that the information for our EOC is covered in depth. We haven’t taken our first district benchmark and I’m concerned about the scores, but I’m also hopeful that a later benchmark, they will do better on material that is older (stuff we did at the beginning of the year) because of the way we covered the material. Fingers crossed.
    For myself, I feel like that I’m doing a lot more thinking about the true benefit of the activities I’m designing in class. I’m concerned about my attitude towards the time I’m taking to set things up and feeling like when things don’t go as expected, scores aren’t where they should be, and I’m getting behind other teachers in the same content area, that I’m doing a disservice to my students. The cost to this is that it can be very discouraging at times.

    • sewilkie says:

      Gena, I nearly cheered when I read your comment: “I feel like I’m doing a lot more thinking about the true benefit of the activities I’m designing in class.” This is excellent to hear and the true goal of our EA effort! It’s especially nice to hear that your students are growing as questioners, gaining comfort in asking, exploring and (hopefully) sharing answers to their own questions!

    • Karen says:

      Like Sara, I feel you are on the right track. You are developing thinkers who are actively engaged in their learning (lifeskill-how many multiple choice tests do you take now)! I hope your test scores weren’t as discouraging as you are thinking. Maybe you and the kids can talk about the challenges of the testing.

  72. Ericka Ann Lawson says:

    Doing More:
    – What are you doing more of?
    Encouraging reflective journals on projects to have students think about how they prepare and refine their process of doing projects.

    – What are your students doing more of?
    Reflective journaling

    – To what benefit?
    The students are making some gains on better planning and doing of projects.

    – At what cost?
    A lot of class time lost.

    • Karen says:

      Sounds like students are benefiting from thinking about their learning! Does the reflective journaling need to be done in class? Could students possibly share their journals with others and gather feedback and then possibly revise their thinking?

  73. Alice Dunlap says:

    What are your you and your students doing more of? Students are eager to share their learning by creating a tutorial video for posting, and I am spending time thinking about how to make the work flow easier between technological platforms. While it makes the students are highly engaged when they are creating a video, I’m not sure that their understanding of math content is necessarily getting stronger. I am hoping the pleasure they experience in making math videos will make the learning more pleasurable and thus more memorable. The cost of doing this type of work is class time. The students who need to increase their learning aren’t always the folks who finish their tutorials.

    As students create online products, they make less paper products to display. I guess this is both a benefit and a cost. The only cost really of the technology work is when the measures of student learning to not show that students learned the math they needed to learn.

    • Megan says:

      This sounds great! Could the students who need to increase their math learning view the other student’s tutorials in order to strengthen those skills?

    • Curtis says:

      Alice please allow what seems like a lazy question, because I promise it’s not meant to be. What’s next? How do you adjust the plan knowing that you didn’t get the desired result? Any reason to believe the benefits will just be delayed?

    • Karen says:

      How could students extend their learning (and possibly video creation) beyond the class time? Is there a way students could think about the process – script – prior to video creation? Could students evaluate that “pre-work” in advance to improve quality?

  74. Becky Mustachio says:

    Doing More:
    – What are you doing more of?
    I am doing more creating questions with students
    – What are your students doing more of?
    starting to question peer evaluating questions
    – To what benefit?
    discussing the content
    – At what cost?

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    – What are you doing differently?
    guiding the students through questioning
    – What are your students doing differently?
    understanding an appropriate questions
    – To what benefit?
    The student are thinking in terms of the content
    – At what cost?
    time and frustration

    • Curtis says:

      Becky is there no cost to having students create questions? Even if so is this something that you’d recommend to other teachers at SF. Does this change how you address them as the teacher? Thanks in advance for sharing!

  75. carrollr says:

    I’m doing more adminstrative work, grading essays, posting grades and responding to emails.

    The good news is my students are writing more and asking questions about why we are doing certain items. Also, the students are relating what we study in History to today’s current affairs. In my Pre-AP classes we are watching CNN Student news on a daily basis and we are discussing what is going on in the wold.

    The benefit is the students are much more engaged and excitied about class, the disadvantage is that CNN take about 15 min of class time.

    • Rian Evans says:

      You mentioned in your post that a disadvantage was the 15 minutes of classtime it takes to watch CNN. Is it possible for the students to do that portion of the work at home the night previous to class? That would free up more time for student discussions or other pertinent activities. Just a thought.

  76. lauren.ewald says:

    Doing More:
    – What are you doing more of? Creating rubrics for small projects that can be completed in one class, finding videos for students to watch
    – What are your students doing more of? completing more small projects/activities to reinforce lectures and relate topics to the real-world, watching videos that explain topics before I lecture over them (modified flipping)and taking notes
    – To what benefit? more independent learning
    – At what cost? ensuring that they still learn the information without me directly giving it all to them

    Doing Some Things Differently:
    – What are you doing differently? Trying to do less lecture
    – What are your students doing differently? More work on their own
    – To what benefit? learning is more authentic because they are discovering things on their own
    – At what cost? making sure they stay on task and are being responsible for managing their time and for their own learning

    • Susan says:

      I relate to cost issue: We are giving them responsibility for their own learning, but somehow that doesn’t make us no longer responsible. Metaphorically letting go of the reins, but still needing to get to town.

    • Sarah says:

      I agree that having rubrics (and using student created rubrics) is really powerful. I also have trouble keeping the students on task as they can get distracted by what they have found. Having the class create expectations and giving them time to share at the end can help keep them focused.

      • Krystal says:

        I hadn’t thought of rubrics as a focus tool before, but they do have a kind of checklist mentality…have I done this, have I done this, have I done this? If they created the rubric, it is even more embedded in their heads. It helps me stay focused!

      • MARGIE says:

        Beginning with the end in mind, as they say, always helps us get to where we are going.

    • Krystal says:

      I’m really curious about the rubrics for small projects. That seems to be a huge paradigm shift for my campus–moving from huge end of unit projects to small learning projects along the way. I’d love to see your rubrics if you would be willing to share!

    • sewilkie says:

      Lauren, the small steps can often be more powerful! Sounds like your kids are doing more of the thinking and connecting. I especially appreciate the students grappling with time management (such an important life skill)! Re: the cost of “doing more”: How are you determining student understanding of information?

  77. Wardd says:

    Students are using google forms more. I am reviewing data more. The benefit is that I know where the students stand.
    Things I am doing differently are reviews and students answering and asking more questions. They are talking about math more and operating at a higher level and helping each other. I am seeing that it is leaving some kids behind and I am looking at ways to work with these kids more effectively.
    My documentation is a stack of google form assessments of homework.

    • Curtis says:

      Donna so much of this is huge victory. I love to hear that students are discussing the content. We talk about what matters to us= students were talking about math= math matters to them! I’m curious to hear what you think about the use of data. All good, some good, or no good.

  78. Suza Sharp says:

    This year, I added another novel choice in book club as well as asked students to access the book How to Read Literature Like a Professor so that questions I asked, based on archetypes, could apply to all three novels. The difference in book club this year is that the students created and posted questions during their meetings and also responded to each other’s responses. The result has been more in depth exchanges and engaging responses to those questions they created. I think they felt like they had more ownership and direction in their meetings. The responses to each other were genuine and critical, which will help them write their literary criticism assignment this month in which they’ll research a literary criticism article and respond to it by bringing in more text evidence as part of their agreement/disagreement of the article, much like what they did in book club.

    • Krystal says:

      Genuine and critical responses are what it is all about! I’ve had conversations about how what we are doing doesn’t relate to the test, but it does! If students can generate critical responses we are well on the road to life long success. Higher order thinking is the goal!

  79. Curtis says:

    I’m doing more learning, which is an ultimate benefit because I’ll have more to work with, but the cost is that I’ll have more to “work” with.

    I am engaging with folks differently, in that I am far more direct and it provides a very similar experience to the more learning. I am able to more clearly address concerns, but now I spend more time with that specifically.

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