Many graphic organizers find there way into my lesson plans. KWL charts, Venn diagrams, 3-column organizers and concept maps are dispersed throughout my lessons. I used different ones for separate projects and different grade levels to keep the lessons looking and feeling new from year to year. Our testing showed that students need more work organizing their ideas when writing. All subjects support writing, so I expanded my expectations for writing in health class.
Each grade level is required to read several health articles from Current Health or Choices magazine. Depending on the grade level, they are required to write 1-3 summaries per health session. While writing the summaries they are to focus on good paragraph writing techniques. This would mimic an extended response on a test or a homework assignment. I put a graphic organizer on one side of the paper and the paragraph lines on the other. There are arrows and numbered shaped sections for those students needing the extra structure.
The results have been great. The paragraph writing has improved. Plagiarism has decreased, and student confidence has gone up. These writings have been used as samples in student meetings to show what they are doing in their writing. Since I will be seeing the students twice throughout the year, 60 days apart, these summaries can then be used to show growth in writing. In terms of PLC, these summaries can be used for added information to show what the students know and are able to do.
PROVIDE FULL EXAMPLES
In health class we do many different projects. With all the different learning styles, I want to be sure students are getting what they need in terms of understanding directions, and knowing what to do next. In the past I have used the Promethean board to show how to create the projects. There was still some difficulty (not just technical when the computer crashed). I’ve started making large sized models while giving directions to help with those sensing students and visual learners. Not only am I modeling HOW to create the project, but I am modeling the self-talk as well. Students get to hear me think out loud as I create the project.
I’ve found that the students are attending better to my explanations. They are also anticipating my self-talk and saying it before I get the chance to (this was very cool to listen to). They are making suggestions for what I might add to a drawing, or perhaps which color I should use. I found this very interesting because the Promethean’s claim to fame was that students would attend better to technology. These samples are exactly like the projects the students will create (except bigger) so, I think, it is easier for them to comprehend exactly what they are supposed to do. As a result I am getting better quality projects with more detailed information when they are sharing. Again, these are great examples of what students know and are able to do.