Fifth Grade Registration Day
This quarter we had registration day for incoming fifth grade students and their parents to experience Wheeler Middle School and the classes that they will be taking next year. When I first heard about this, the first thing that came to mind was "wouldn't it be cool if we had some student involvement as well?" I swiftly set about to get current students who could act as older buddies of sorts to help the incoming students with any questions or concerns that they may have. Three of my most proactive students stepped up to the plate to help out. They brought samples of things that they had done in sixth grade to show the fifth grade students and parents, and then when the incoming fifth graders were wandering around the campus to register for classes, these students were walking around helping answer questions and directing them. Another team in sixth grade got together five students of their own, so we ended up having 8 current students walking around, answering questions, and helping out. Next year when I do this I am aiming to have a stronger presence of current students, and more parents as well, to help with the process, it really did seem to make a huge difference.
Something that I have been trying to incorporate more into my classroom this quarter was Socratic Seminars. I found these to be especially useful in terms of developing my students' critical thinking and critical questioning skills. I took a much more scaffolded approach to it and modified the process a little to meet the needs of my students. At the beginning of the process we spent the first few weeks just practicing questioning skills; questioning texts, questioning each other, the books we were independently reading, the novel we were reading as a class, news articles, anything that we could question we would. We also broke our questions down into DOK (depth of knowledge) 1, 2, 3 levels to understand our questioning. The students got really good at creating and distinguishing between different types of questions. From the questioning strategies we moved to answering. What I was noticing in my first few rounds of attempts at socratic seminars was that their questioning strategies were really good, but they weren't able to take the discussions further than simple responses. This prompted me to work on having large questions, with time to answer, then discussions of the answers, with purposeful grouping of students who had distinctive differences in opinions to responses. This process of a modified Socratic Seminar helped move the students in the direction of understanding how to question and respond, and I have confidence that they will be able to get much better moving forward.
Using the TeenBiz data tracker I have been able to see how my students are performing on tasks and activities aligned to advancing their critical thinking skills and lexile scores. According to the data, of my 50 kids, 6 are fall below being ready, of those 6, 3 are new students and as such don't have as much data, which could be skewing the results. The 27 students that are in the approaches range, are students that I feel I can really work with to make sure that they are prepared. We have been working on critical thinking and engagement strategies such as the Stanford Read Like a Historian lesson plans, Socratic Seminars and discussions, practice SBAC performance tasks, and essay writing. One of the things that I am most worried about is that a lot of my students are slow typers. It makes sense that if you can't type quickly, you may be able to think quick enough to answer a question, but if you can't type as fast as your thoughts, it will be more difficult to finish on time. I have every confidence in my students' abilities to do the work, but the timing is what I am most nervous about.
Going into Fourth Quarter
Chelsea received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in the Department of Second Language Studies, and the Department of Language and Literatures of Europe and the Americas, studying French Language.