A few weeks ago, I attended a workshop for teachers. In casual conversation with some other teachers someone stiting at my table mentioned using a strategy called "My Favorite No." She described the technique quickly and mentioned that there was a video on youtube showing how it was done.
Fast forward to yesterday evening. Christmas Day had come and gone, presents were opened, my parents had returned to their home and Christmas day dinner was cleaned up. What was there to do but surf the internet while my boys and my husband took control of the tv and looked for sporting events? Since I can't turn off my teacher brain 100% I found myself looking up the strategy, "My Favorite No," on youtube. I took a few minutes to watch the video.
The teacher in this video did a fantastic job using formative assessment in her classroom. She posed a warm up problem for the students on the board. Each child is provided with an index card to solve the problem on. After a few minutes the cards were collected and the teacher quickly sorted the students' work into to piles, correct and incorrect. Then she then choose her favorite no, or wrong answer from the incorrect pile. It was an answer that was not correct, but should some good math skills. As a whole class, the teacher and the students talked about why that card was chosen. Positive feedback was provided to the student anonymously about what was done correctly and where the mistake was made and how to fix it. The only problem I had with this is that this is a math strategy and I teach social studies. I wanted to be able to adapt and use this in my classroom, so I began to think of how to adapt and use this strategy in my own classroom.
This is what I came up with:
1. Ask students to define a vocab word on an index card, pick one that has an incomplete definition.
2. Ask students to use a vocab word in a sentence, pick one where the word is used incorrectly.
3. Ask students to answer an open response question, pick one that could use more elaboration and examples.
It is not a perfect fit and I still need to think about it some more. For now let's just call this a work in progress.
Over the summer, I was surfing the web and stumbled upon an awesome website for history teachers.
I perused pages and pages of awesome activities, got tons of ideas and was inspired to try some of his lessons. Though I was inspired, the ideas got put on the back burner for to simmer. The school year started and I spent time establishing routines and getting to know my students. That turned into progress reports, parent teacher conferences, professional development and eventually report cards.
Despite being busy with school and just life in general, the desire to try some of Mr. Roughton's lessons continued to simmer. Every once in a while I got an inkling and revisited his website. I wanted to take the leap and try some of his ideas, I just wasn't ready.
In the past I have done choice time activities, but that was when I was an elementary school teacher. I had never really thought to try it at the middle school level. That is until I stumbled on Mr.Roughton's website. He has a great list of choose your own adventure activities, and by adventure he means learning!
It was time to turn the back burner off and take the leap. Sorry for the mixed metaphor. I was nearing the end of a unit of study on Mesopotamia in seventh grade, and I thought to myself why not? Why not use the choice time to review for the test? So once again I perused Mr. Roughton's website and found the choice time activities that I wanted to use, along with a few of my own ideas, and created my choice time sheet.
What I discovered was a delightful surprise. Every student was engaged. Conversations were about Ancient Mesopotamia AND...they were enjoying themselves! So thank you Mr. Roughton. Thank you for your hard work and dedication. Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas. Thank you for creating engaging and challenging activities. Thank you for giving me the courage to step out of my comfort zone, and by comfort zone I mean my strong need to be in control, to try something new in my classroom. Thank you!!
I am an empty-nester with two boys, a husband and a passion for writing, creating and teaching. I teach 7th and 8th grade Social Studies in Massachusetts. I am a self proclaimed history geek and proud of it! In my spare time ( Spare time, ha ha that's a joke! ) I enjoy photography, reading and hanging out with my family.