Amid the mix of emotions and preoccupations that crowd end-of-year school days, Amber Chandler takes time to discover how her 8th graders ranked her five major ELA units this year. What they think will help her prepare for next fall. Once she returns from the lake!
Category: The Flexible Classroom
How much pre-teaching and context-building should teachers do when they teach novels from other cultural eras? How much is too much in a discovery-based classroom? Amber Chandler’s students helped her find the right balance as they experienced The Outsiders.
Fresh from her middle school’s Falcon Pride Day, Amber Chandler celebrates the joy of a pre-Spring Break event that’s one part competition, one part team building, and one part controlled chaos, noting that kids’ SEL needs are at least as important as curriculum.
As spring temperatures rise (and testing begins), students and teachers start to get antsy. What can we do to make end-of-year more productive and enjoyable while also saving our sanity? After 17 springs in the classroom, Amber Chandler has three ideas that may help relieve the jitters.
Traditional conferencing isn’t a good fit for Amber Chandler’s project-based classroom. She uses a version of “unconferencing” that provides flexible student support, with help available from both teacher and classmates. A detailed example explains the process.
Opening your classroom door to families for student presentations can be intimidating. Think gas leaks, mumbled swear words and flop sweat, says Amber Chandler. But it can also be the ultimate learning and bonding experience among families, students, and teachers.
Amber Chandler is pondering testing. Not big league, high stakes exams but the run of the mill end-of-unit kind. When 20 percent of her students stumble over literary terms on The Giver unit test, she opts for a flexible (but controversial) “point buy-back” offer.
Teaching students to take good notes and allowing them to use “open notes” on most class tests is good instructional practice, says ELA teacher Amber Chandler. She details how her open-note approach sharpens student focus and provides data to strengthen lessons.
Instead of just saying “study your vocabulary,” Amber Chandler is trying out Quizlet Live, an online team-based game that has students begging for more. She says the easy tech tool promotes collaborative competition, meets SEL needs, and requires little extra work.
Last year, Amber Chandler reluctantly admits to herself, her lesson plan for teaching “The Most Dangerous Game” wasn’t stellar. Instead of tossing it, she decided to figure out what went wrong. Honest reflection, she’s convinced, is the only way teachers grow.