75% ... 3/4 ... 0.75 ... 3 out of 4
No matter how you say it, the school year is a good chunk of the way over! The finish line is in sight! And I know what is going through most teachers brains right now:
"Enjoy Spring Break ... final prep before state testing ... get through testing ... finish out the year!"
Hold on ... Let me push your thinking for a bit. 4th quarter is NOT time to wind down. 4th quarter is NOT time to start packing up. 4th quarter is NOT time to just "get through". Rather, EMBRACE 4th quarter! It's spring ... a time of renewal! A time for new growth.
No, I've not fallen off my rocker. I support trying something new at any point in the year, but I see 4th quarter as a great time for those who are a little more timid to try. Stop and think about it:
- When will you know your students any better?
- When will you know the pacing of this class any better?
- When will you know exactly where in your day you can fit something in?
- When will you know how far you can push your students?
- When will you know the resources you have available to you any better?
- When will you be able to breathe knowing testing is over?
- When will you be able to see a more definite end date than the end of the year?
The answer to ALL of the above is ... this time NEXT year! Your students are ready ... they will be excited! They will enjoy the ride, too. And you'll never know how successful it can be until you try. And if you are successful, you can have the confidence to start your year off on a great note!
Need some ideas? I've got you covered ...
Google Classroom → this is a fantastic place to house your classroom digital work. Think of it as an in-class website. At it's most basic use, Classroom provides a way to assign and collect work done digitally. You can ask questions, have digital conversations, send links to needed resources, and more. In it's most sophisticated use, you can differentiate work and allow your class to become a self-paced place for students to push themselves.
Content Specific Videos → Longing for a way to proactively answer the routine questions your students and parents have? Challenge your current students to help you create these resources. It's a GREAT way for them to demonstrate their understanding of the concepts you've worked on all year. Begin building a library of student created videos! iPads, Chromebooks, and document cameras all have the ability to record and be uploaded and shared with you. A simple collection method is on a Google Doc - which can then be shared to your future students' parents. Stepping it up, you could create a YouTube channel dedicated to these resources! Added challenge - pair up with another teacher of the same grade and make it a joint effort!
Gamification → Want to "spice up" class? Sprinkle a little ... or a LOT ... of gamification! It doesn't need to be your entire class - start with ONE unit or ONE chapter. Successful gamification requires a specific goal. And contrary to what you might be thinking, there does NOT have to be prizes (digital badges work quite well!). After all, what do your students "win" once they've beaten a video game? Successful gamification in the classroom provides multiple activities and ways to accrue points, which lead to higher levels. Who wouldn't want their students to be more active in their own learning? I'd be willing to bet you have an overwhelming number of resources you can pull out right now, attach some point value to, and allow students to select from. I've not found one "perfect" system, but 2 that I've worked with classroom teachers are BadgeU and Flippity "Badge Tracker". (I think I just stumbled on the focus for my blog next week!!!)
Break Down the Walls → Want to show your students there is more out there than what they see? Show them! And it's all no-cost adventures. The only limitation will be the devices you have access to. If you have ONE internet capable device you can easily tackle Skype a Scientist, Mystery Skypes, & Scholastic Webinars. Read more on this topic at my post about "Breaking Down the Walls of Your Classroom".
But don't let these ideas limit you. Have you had an idea brewing in your head? Have you heard yourself say "one day I'll do/try ..."? NOW is the time! Embrace it! Spring is a time of renewal, new growth, new energy, and sunshine!
Go for it!