Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Changing the way I think ... about teaching

One of the biggest challenges as a middle school teacher is keeping around 100 students engaged in learning every day. This year, I teach two different grade levels - which adds to that challenge considerably. Before attending the Power Tools workshop, I would plan my units and hope that something in the units would reach each student. I find that now, I am much more deliberate about planning specific strategies that will be helpful to the students - and ones that the students will be most likely to carry to other classes. Two of the strategies that I have found especially helpful in Language Arts are "Marking the Text" and "SWBS."

Marking the Text is a great way to help students through difficult passages, or passages that deal with a lot of specific content, such as history or science. I made bookmarks for the students that have the different code abbreviations, as well as poster sized copies for the room.

Many of my students have trouble with comprehension, or more accurately, writing a summary that demonstrates true comprehension. Using "Somebody Wanted But So" (SWBS) is a fantastic way to teach students a lifelong skill of quickly summarizing the content or explaining someone's life work. We use this a lot!

The Power Tools book is an invaluable resource, and it sits on my desk each day. I wish every teacher in my building had the chance to attend the workshop, because although all teachers were given their own copies of the book, I know they are not seeing these strategies in the same way as those of us who were lucky enough to attend.

I look forward to incorporating these strategies into a new content next year when I change subjects - and am already looking at the new materials through a different lens.

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