Last week, I experienced a highly effective, paperless faculty meeting. Then I started wondering, Can I follow the same procedures in lessons?
The faculty meeting went like this:
1. One or two slides highlight the purpose of the meeting and the objectives to be accomplished.
I’m continually thinking about the immediate needs of my students. Like most teachers, I crave time alone in the classroom. When attending school-wide meetings, I have to zoom out of my classroom thinking in order to see how my classroom fits in the bigger picture of school objectives.
When I know the purpose of a faculty meeting (one purpose, not a list of agenda items), I become far more engaged. I’m especially engaged when I can see how the meeting relates to planning, instruction, or assessment.
2. Carefully chosen reading material available for download.
Readings were chosen to facilitate a common vocabulary to use during discussions and work time.
3. Break the reading into chunks and “jigsaw” it.
Even with carefully chosen readings, there was too much to fully digest. Each grade level focused on a particular section of the readings (about five minutes-worth of reading) and shared their learning with the larger group.
In other words, we read one section carefully and read the other sections more casually. Casual reading combined with a short oral synthesis (provided by the other groups) led to good comprehension of all main points.
4. Provide a follow-up question for discussion.
At the end of each reading, groups were asked to discuss. Prompts were provided, but usually not necessary.
5. Quick formative assessment.
Following a few rounds of jigsaw reading, one Power Point/Keynote slide provided a quick check for understanding. In this particular exercise, groups of teachers matched student activities with assessment categories.
6. Repeat until faculty reach a common understanding of terms and expectations.
7. Work time. All work is submitted on a Google spreadsheet.
The spreadsheets were pre-programmed to chart and graph results for further discussion.
Could this be applied to classroom instruction?
1. Highlight objectives for students.
When students enter the room, they need to zoom out of their home and social life. I think they are more engaged when they know there the exact purpose behind the activities I ask them to do.
2. Give students small chunks of material to download and read.
I’m still teaching students to effectively read nonfiction. While doing this, I could also teach them to highlight topic sentences and important details. They can also be taught to add notes or comments.
Numbers 3-6: Instruct, facilitate discussion, formatively assess for understanding.
Good, general classroom practice. What do I want my students to know?
7. Give students a specific task with which they can use their knowledge and gain analytic skills.
What do I want my students to be able to do?
I will try this with my student this next week. In Social Studies, students need to read about the relationships between Native Americans and early American colonists. Then, students need to apply their knowledge to the life of a fictional (yet historically accurate) colonists they will re-enact.
How can you make your classroom more paperless?
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