In light of me taking part in the #IMMOOC this year, I’ve been noticing and getting inspired by teachers doing innovative things in their classrooms when I supply for them.
So, I’m going to use this space to write about the cool, innovative, different strategies/tools/etc. I see other teachers use. This is mostly for me so I have them all in one place, but hope it might be useful or helpful to others!
I’ve covered classes for a math teacher a few times recently (Denise Cowdry at Lord Dorchester SS) , and have been struck by her use of VNPS (vertical non-permanent surfaces…whiteboards on the walls in the classroom), VRG (visibly random groups – students put into different small working groups each day), DESMOS, and student-centred learning strategies.
Often, the classes are structured as follows:
- As students enter the room, they get assigned to a pod of (4) desks. I do this just by numbering them as the come in, but I might start bringing a deck of cards.
- Usually, the students then solve a small number of review problems on the whiteboards in their groups.
- At this point, the students may go through a DESMOS investigation, have a lesson, or work on extension problems in their groups.
- This part differs greatly each day, and I’m sure she incorporates lots of learning strategies (I know she’s done 3-act math lessons, for example)
- Near the end, we try to consolidate their learning for that day, and they have time to work on their assigned homework.
She also spirals most (all?) of the classes!
Last time I was there, I got to actually meet Denise, so that was awesome, and we chatted more about the process of making these changes to her classroom. The big take aways for me were:
- yes, students/parents complained in the beginning, but now that she’s been doing it a while, students know what to expect and (most) can see the benefits.
- She said she’s never had so much fun teaching in her career!
I look forward to going back to her classroom because it gives me a chance to be immersed in the type of classroom I hope to create for myself and my students.
This week, I have the opportunity to work in the Beal Innovates program, and I’m so excited to see how it works! I’ll definitely write about that, so watch this space!