Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Do When?

The do now receives a lot of attention in secondary classrooms today. The do now provides a way to start class with an academic focus, encourages promptness, and allows teachers to take care of attendance while figuring out who is about to have a meltdown and who needs to switch seats. Some teachers criticize them as adding to the factory-like atmosphere of public high school today. We can talk about that later, but for the purposes of this blog post, I'm sold.

In our classroom, we start the day free writing. I provide a couple of topics that relate to what we're working on or that may provide a way to further classroom community. Students always have the option to write about whatever they would like. We all just keep writing for ten minutes and then share out. I learned this technique in grad school and find it really helpful for setting the tone in our classroom.

After about three people share their free writes, we do a grammar exercise. Together, we correct one of these passages and then explore the vocabulary embedded within the passage. Grammar exercises can get tricky, and I think Ms. Kiester has caught on to something here. I don't want to stop doing them.

But we have got to put some pep in our step.

I wonder if part of the reason we're behind is because we've lost some of our beginning of the year energy. I'm thinking about moving the grammar portion to the last ten minutes of class. The risks include students zoning out, going over on another worthy activity, or competing with the other end-of-class administrative tasks like announcements. Potential pay offs could include having ten minutes of a calm beginning and then time for a more exciting activity where students move around (you can only make grammar so fun, y'all). Thoughts? Ideas? Experience from the field?

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