Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Giving Choice and Encouraging Students to JUST READ!

Each year I try to incorporate more options to encourage choice reading with my middle school students.  This quarter I chose some of my favorite projects and presentations over the past years and created a choice Tic-Tac-Toe board.  I wanted to assess written standards as well as presentation standards over these choice books. We are halfway through our quarter and already I have had four students present! The majority will present the last two weeks of the quarter!  Each presentation was unique to the books chosen and showcased the hard work and effort put forth by the students.  

Here's the break down of the project:
Before the Project - 
For this project I have allowed 100% choice.  In the past I have worked with our school librarian to compile a genre of books such as award winners, sci-fi, fantasy, biography.  Decide beforehand if you are willing to give 100% choice or if selecting a genre would fulfill a different requirement. I introduced the project and sent home the parent approval forms first. Students had two weeks to have a book ready for the start of the quarter.  The quarter is 8 weeks, this allowed 6 weeks of reading time with presentations mixed in and a small cushion for late work.
During the Project 
- I created a Google Form for Book Talk sign ups and allowed up to four per day through the duration of the project. A blank calendar for each class period would suffice instead of a Google Form. However, with the form I don't have to worry about students erasing their day on the calendar, crossing someone else off, or any of the middle school experiences I have had over the years. The heaviest presentation days are of course the last two weeks of the project, however students who are avid readers did sign up for earlier dates.  One said she wanted to “get the presentation out of the way” so she could have more time to enjoy as many books as she wanted.  We have 60 minute class periods.  I have been able to allow for 10 minutes of silent reading on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I run “random book checks” throughout the project.  I used a checklist for this and some Schoology check-ins as well.  If the student had his/her book and updated reading log it was 10 points, 5 points for just his/her book, 0 points if the book was missing.There were no points for just having a Reading Log, it doesn't show me that the book is traveling to each class as it should. 

Here's what our Google Form looked like for the students: 

By using the Google add-on Choice Eliminator I was able to have dates disappear after four students signed up for a date.  I found a great You-Tube tutorial on how to use this in Google Forms.   

After the Project/Assessment – I have learned many tricks over the years to solve problems that seem to arise one such is “Mean Teacher” syndrome.  This is when a student wants to argue about something such as eye contact, voice level, or the creativity of a project.  To reduce the fear of failure and instill more confidence in my students, I explain that three people will be grading the presentation.  The student chooses someone he/she trusts, and I choose someone I believe to be a neutral party. Sometimes this is another teacher or administrator, however most often it is a student who is excelling in class.  The three of us grade the presentation. I explain that the student graders will not grade essays because they are not trained in this part, however if a class has had a lot of practice with peer grading this is acceptable as well.  I average the two student rubrics together then average that score with mine.  If the class has discussed fair grading and understands the rubric expectations, the student graders are usually incredibly close to my grading. If I find that the students grade harsher than I do, I use only my scores.

So far the students are doing really well with this choice board project.  I can't wait to see more end results!

Click the image to go to my Teachers pay Teachers store!

Thanks for reading!  Message me with ideas about the project, questions, comments!

English Middle School Mania

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