One of my favorite things about teaching is the ability to reflect on my lessons. Figuring out what went wrong and implementing changes to enhance lessons brings such satisfaction. Sometimes, those changes aren't going to be used until the following year, but still, there is growth in the process. I also think that blogging is a fantastic way to reflect. It gives you the opportunity to get comments from others who may have struggled with the same things. Plus, there's the organizational factor. I often refer back to posts I have written in the past to help me remember successful lessons.
So with all that being said, today's post is another one of reflection. I recently did a pre-reading assignment with my eighth graders (read more about it in this previous post). Last year, the students wrote and delivered speeches. This year, I switched it up slightly and had the students write and present a newspaper article. Each student researched a topic and wrote their paper, but we didn't have a lot of time. Don't you hate the time factor?! This is where I ran into trouble. I really should have had each student do a visual to go along with their article. Instead, I had the students present their article by reading it--with NO visual. My ultimate goal was for students to learn from their peers' presentations. I had the audience taking notes, but since there was no visual, it was very difficult for them to follow along with the presentation. Students kept interrupting the presenter asking them to repeat things, "What was that date? How do you spell that name? What year again?" By the end of two days of presentations, I wasn't sure the students in the audience got anything out of it. Next year if I do this assignment, I will definitely require a visual that contains both pictures (to bring life to the topic) and bullet points (to help the audience follow along). That way, the audience can focus on listening, but still learn from the research their peers did! Lesson learned- sometimes forgoing parts of assignments "for the sake of time" actually ends up being more costly in the end.