I always enjoyed casual teaching. You experienced a range of classes, schools, students, and did not have to worry about reports or so many other responsibilities that a teacher on a temporary contract or in a permanent position has. However, as a casual you do have one significant responsibility, which is to ensure that you mark all tasks you have students complete (unless otherwise directed by any note the normal teacher may leave, and you need to leave some form of note for the regular teacher as to what you have done and how the day/s went, what issues, if any, there were.
On my very first casual day I did not do this and when I was back in that school on the very next day, the teacher for that class pulled me aside and had a quiet word with me about my responsibilities as a casual teacher. Although the phrase had a quiet word tends to carry negative connotations, this teacher did so with good intent, with professionalism and with experience. I came to work in this school regularly and developed a lot of respect for this teacher. Her experience was significant (she only retired last year), her manner was direct, but her intentions were always good.
I experimented with different ways of leaving the notes for the regular teacher, but eventually struck upon the format that I offer as today's Friday Freebie. This form served me well and allowed me to simply fill in the blanks to let the teacher know what had been done, as well as gave the classroom teacher a direct line of contact to me if they needed it for the future.
A few weeks ago I was approached about delivering a presentation on flipped learning through a webinar to a school in Spain. Intrigued, I chatted over Skype with the school's Principal and agreed to provide a roughly thirty minute presentation outlining what flipped learning is, the research behind it, what it looks like in class and some ways of using it. There are a lot of areas I did not have time to go into during the presentation, and this has prompted me to put together some further resources covering those areas.
For now, this week's Friday Freebie is the recording of the webinar. For the full list of Friday Freebies, click here.
In this week's Friday Freebie, I offer a Google Form that you can utilise to allow Parents to request a meeting with their child's teacher. The question asking for the child's class can be modified to input the actual class names or teachers. This can then be utilised to generate e-mails to those teacher's automatically, or to the administration staff to forward on to the relevant teacher/s.
If you are not familiar with using GForms, or setting up e-mail notifications, please check the FTPL playlist dedicated to Google Suite by clicking here. For the full list of Friday Freebies, please click here.
“Nothing is yours. It is to use. It is to share. If you will not share it, you cannot use it.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed
This week's Friday Freebie is something that I am actually rather happy with. It is a program for Physical Education and Sport for a full semester. Note that it is an actual Physical Education program, not a let's go and play a game program. The structure of the program is based on my current context, Stage One, and is dealing with four sets of fundamental movement skills for a block of approximately four weeks each. I plan to complete the Semester Two version sometime during Term Two so that it is ready to go for Term Three.
Please feel free to share any feedback on the program, issues, questions, things that do not make sense or are overly convoluted.
“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”
― Attributed to Groucho Marx
This week's Friday Freebie continues the literacy theme. Last week's Friday Freebie was a template for marking and tracking students' writing and using it as assessment for learning and assessment of learning. In this article, I am sharing with you a template for tracking your Guided Reading Groups. As with last week's template, this one can be used with students of any age, but will require modification to suit your needs. You can find the Guided Reading Group template by clicking here or the link below.
To use this form, you need to fill in each section with the relevant details. I include the level of the book being read in the section with the students names. In the text title section for my more advanced students, where we are not reading a whole book, I also include what page we read from and read to. The orientation to text section is where you would record the phrasing you use, words or phrases you need to remember to include because they are high-frequency or challenging. The key words/phrases section is where you might record the focus word/phrase that you are focusing on. The observation section is fairly straight forward.
The bottom section is where you might make the most modification depending on the age. The word work section is where I record the phoneme that I am focusing on from the book and what I will be doing with that phoneme. For example we might be working with the /tʃ/ phoneme (as at the start of chair or the end of catch) and I might record that we are focusing just on the (ch) variation and so would record some words there to use with the group of students I am working with. The questions after reading section allows you to plan ahead for what you will be asking to check for comprehension. This allows you to plan for your differentiation ahead of time as you can plan the questions based around the needs of the group of students. For example, with students who are struggling, you might ask more literal style questions, with an inferential question at the end. However, with more advanced students, there might be none or one literal question and the rest are inferential or connection questions.
The response to text activity allows you to tie your reading to your writing by asking students to write something based upon the the story and can be adjusted to suit the focus in the class at the time. This could be as simple as describing the images in the story, or to write a recount of what happened, to write about a time the student did something from the story. With more capable students, you could ask them to retell the story from a different characters perspective, or as a different text type.
The response to text could also be adjusted vis-a-vis what the mode of response takes. It could be to create an artwork or sculpture if that fits with a unit of learning you are completing with students, to engage with a science experiment if that is appropriate, to research something from the story, to transform the story into a dramatic play or to compose some music to fit the story. These options would be used with older students.
I do also include, in each section, an indication in the margin as to what day my notes correspond to, regardless of whether it is a different book each day, or the same book being read over a few days.
Please feel free to share with your network and to adapt to suit your needs.
“10 Steps to Becoming a Better Writer
Write even more.
Write even more than that.
Write when you don’t want to.
Write when you do.
Write when you have something to say.
Write when you don’t.
Write every day.
― Attributed to Brian Clark
Teaching students to write can be both incredibly painful and incredibly rewarding (and rather amusing!). The process of knowing where to next can be somewhat daunting, and determining how to manage each student's progress so that everyone is having their individual needs addressed, but that everyone is moving forwards can be quite challenging.
One method that works quite effectively is to use the writing sample that a student has created today as the basis for what you ask them to work on tomorrow. For example, if Jill is in Year Two, then when marking her sample at the end of the day, you would look for a pattern of things that need to be addressed and have her focus, in the next writing session, on rectifying the issue that is the most important. Professional judgement is required to determine whether it is letter formation, capital letters, full stops, spelling, grammatical issues or for older students, structural or thematic issues.
Across the class, however, there will be some clear groupings of issues. You would have students sit in groups during the next writing session, and let each group know what it is that they need to focus on. The issue will vary depending on the age and the context and a range of other factors, however, there will typically be four to five groupings around common writing areas.
This week's Friday Freebie is a template that I have been using this year for this purpose. In the topic/focus column, you record what the topic and focus for the writing samples you are marking was. Then, in the other columns, you create groups based upon trends you see in a student's writing. In the partially completed example I have included below, you can see that I identified five common issues. These are based upon your professional judgement as to what the most important area that needs development was. For some students it was using capital letters and full stops. For others, it was purely about length, that they need to write more in order to allow a judgement to be made on what they need to work on.
You do not have to have five groups, however, you need to allocate each student to a group based upon what you identify in their writing as being important. The next day, when you send students to do their writing task, you have group one sit together and tell them that they need to focus on capital letters and full stops and you have an explicit teaching moment. Then you move to group two and give them their explicit teaching moment and so on until you have spoken with each group. At the end of the day, you go through the process again, and your groupings, both the students in the groups and the area that group needs to focus on might be the same or it might be different.
The table on the second part of the page allows you to record, from the writing sample, a word that they need to practice spelling. This could be anything from a sight word to a theme word and it will vary depending on the age and needs of the student.
I have uploaded the blank template as a PDF to my Public Resources folder on Google Drive for you to download and edit. Alternatively, you can download it below.