Monday, June 18, 2012

They can't say I didn't try...

When kids finish my final, I have an optional, anonymous survey for them: I ask them to rate each technique on its effectiveness or inspirational quality, from 1  -  4, and leave a space for them to 'splain anything they want to:

1) passing around the grade sheet on Monday and then posting it
2) making you keep track of your grades in your agenda
3) if the teacher could somehow force you to use your agenda
4) assigning goal sheets asking you to set goals and write out your game plan
5) passing out tickets for random candy drawing--tickets for academic or citizenship excellence
6) rewarding good work with bonus points
7) knowing that late work is half credit
8) getting donuts when the whole class turns in hw three times
9) Stupid Teacher Plays where we act stuff out with the teacher narrating
10) our mnemonic songs
11) Stupid YOU plays where YOU invent the skits
12) having kids teach a section/topic
13) the Constitutional Powers project
14) getting a printout of your missing assignments
15) notifying parents when you are missing three assignments
16) the teacher writing a note in my agenda when I did something fabulous
17) knowing my class ranking
18) taking graphic notes (all those cartoons the teacher drew!)
19) keeping your notes in one separate, bound composition notebook
20) doing reports and projects
21) knowing that the homework will be directly helpful for doing well on the tests
22) review game: brain gambling [note: other teachers call it "Las Vegas"]
23) review game: jeopardy
24) review game: steal the bacon
25) knowing that if your grade is high enough, you can skip the final
26) earning a free hw pass for having six weeks of perfect hw turn ins
27) the study guides
28) when the teacher draws a star on the class chart with the highest class average that week
29) when what we study in history overlaps with what we are reading in English
30) getting tests signed by a parent
31) knowing your teacher believes you can do better than what you are doing

I end with this: "What else could your teacher do or try that would encourage kids to do their work, learn, or try harder?"

And then I read them. This year the big winners are #9, 1, 19, 31, and 10.  The relative losers (most were still helpful, but not comparatively) were #30, 11, 12, 3, and 4. I am sad about #4 and don't intend to stop it, but I need to figure out a way to revisit the plans and make them more immediate. The kids do write their goal percentage in their agendas so they see their goal every Monday, and #2 scored pretty high, but....sigh, there is just too much to do in 55 minutes--or there are just too many chilluns. 

It was interesting to see how many kids shot down being taught by their peers. I asked my seminerds about that, and they explained that you really learn your section, the one you are teaching or performing, but you get next to nothing from the other groups. 

Suggestions this year: 
• replace tests with more projects to "engrave the info in our minds"  (but some kids hated projects)
• use more puppets (apparently the one I have, Citizen Genet--a critic of the Proclamation of Neutrality--is a big hit and the kids asked about him all year.)
• get privacy boards to use during tests
• change seats more often
• more review games (not different ones, just do more games in general)
• during the Civil War game, give kids points for answering, not just points for their side
• use more graphic notes--they really help and they are motivating

and the "I wish" award goes to: 
• make the kids think in a positive mind frame

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