Feb 14, 2011

Zoom In: Do Now

I borrowed a page out of Mr. G's book -- literally, more or less -- and made Do Now sheets for the students that they could hold on to for the week.

Until recently, I collected half sheets of Do Nows from students. I found, though, that students were getting confused about where they jotted down some of their notes or ideas because I did not give the Do Now half sheets back (shame on me). I hope that this way, with the Mon-Tues-Weds-Thurs-Fri Do Now sheet, they'll be able to track what we've covered over the past week.

Another way that I tried to improve our Do Now time is that I initialed students' sheets if they had finished/attempted the question. Even though I walked around and checked for progress before, the fact that I was now marking their papers motivated students to show me that they attempted it. I have a hunch that the students whose Do Nows were blank prior to today were attempting the problem in their head, but if they were not confident in their answer, they would not put anything down. Since I am giving credit for work shown, I get to now see students' thinking and reasoning regardless of correct answers.

Students have plenty of time to get from one class to another; as they enter our classroom, there is usually a minute or two of settling down before the bell rings. At first, I wanted for students to enter the room quietly and calmly. I'm starting to let go of that fantasy, though. The kids always file into the classroom excited about something: Valentine's day, a game that was on the night before, a project that we are doing in science, the fact that their dog just had puppies... the list goes on. They crazy. My friend gave me a nice analogy today:
"Sometimes, when I'm at home and watching TV, I put the TV on mute so that I can do something for a moment. When I'm done with whatever it was I was doing, I un-mute the TV. To my surprise, the volume is incredibly loud and blaring at me! I did not notice how loud the TV actually was until I compared it to complete silence. When students are walking into the classroom, they might be coming from a fun activity, or from the lunch room, or from the loud, crowded hallways, and they do not realize how much of that loud energy they are bringing with them into the classroom. I think that when students are in the classroom, it's important to bring the noise level down to complete silence for at least a moment; that way, students will have a frame of reference for their own volume."
I'm learning to allow students to shake off their crazies until the bell rings. Once the bell rings, I told them that that is a signal for us to be in our seats and working quietly and independently on the Do Now. It sometimes takes a moment, but I'm learning to be OK with that because the kids are 8th graders: they're silly and they're very emotional. My main focus in terms of volume now is to give kids a frame of reference of where our volume needs to start in our classroom before we can start adding volume throughout the period.


Feb 8, 2011

Convert Keynote to Powerpoint

Hello edublogosphere,

My colleagues and I have recently taken our collaboration to a new level through dropbox. We are ecstatic and encourage all teachers to give it a looksee if you haven't already.

Quick question, though - does anyone out there know how to mass convert keynote slides to powerpoint format? I already know you can convert individual slide sets into .ppt through keynote, but I'd like to convert MANY (I'm talking hundreds) and converting each set one-by-one sounds like a tedious task.

Can anyone help a brotha out!? I just wanted to give it a try! I know this type of question request has been successful before. You guys rock!

~Mr. G

Feb 7, 2011

2-7-11

I know that "they" say not to talk over people when teaching/giving instructions, but I think I'm going to leave room for on-task chit chat. At any rate, I'm done with sucking all the fun out of 8th grade by being a police officer at the front of the room instead of a teacher.

Student today asked if I was wearing contacts. That confused me for a second because I do not own contacts. Then I realized that I forgot my teacher disguise (a pair of ├╝ber weak glasses) at home. These kids don't miss a thing.

My Do Now question for the day involved the students writing down a question that they might want to pursue for their science fair project. As I walked around, I saw that students had some really exciting and creative ideas. When I asked for a share-out, though, everyone was shy/uninterested in participating. So much for that. I need to find a way to make share-outs actually important and useful. I need for them to share out so they can hear each others' ideas and so their classmates and I can give public feedback.