First Timers

Man, have I not really committed to keeping this blog up...
Yes. The answer is yes.
It's not the end of the world. : )

Anyway, here's something new!

This a snapshot of my:

First time giving a final unit test through Google Forms
First time grading exclusively through Google Form Responses
First time using student-created questions to comprise the majority of the test.
First time using Screencastify

Pretty cool!
This unit test, among other performance-based assessments, covers intro to Islam and part of Malala Yousafzai's memoir.

Here's the Screencastify of me grading:

Here's a sample of what grading looks like at the end:

Here's the beta form my students created to collect good questions for their test:

Here's the test (via Form) that students were given:


Day 38 : Conferencing!

We are rapidly approaching the week of student-led conferences... And the kiddos are excited! Just kidding, they are not happy about it. But after all is said and done, I am confident they will look back with pride and a sense of ownership that is not even close to possible with traditional teacher-led conferencing.

Each student fills out this form that my colleagues and I created. Feel free to use and share!

As a bonus, here is one excerpt. A gem of self-reflection. I love this assignment. : )


Day 37 : Best. Idea. Ever.

Been gone from this blog for a while... I'll catch you up soon. : )
For now, enjoy what I might consider my best idea of the year.

Took me five minutes to create. Took the students five minutes to fill out.
I got amazing, honest, thoughtful responses (in confidentiality because of the form) that REALLY will inform my new seating chart for the upcoming quarter.

In the words of future president Kanye West, "Bro! Bro. Listen to the kids."

- JMF (the teacher)


Day 26 : Table Manners and Small Groups

Ratios on tables! We used the correct form, then made a sentence/story to remind us that numbers have meaning, then represented the sentence/story with visuals, THEN solved a distance/rate/time problem together. Super fun station, even for those who struggled a bit with the concept.

Seriously, math is more fun when you can write on the table. Props to other Kepler teachers for re-arranging and re-adjusting my sense of propriety when it comes to table manners. : )

(Yes, they are upside-down. Small group stations means you learn to read and write upside-down.)


Day 24 : Family Feud

Feudalism experiential exercise = mega win.

Serfs - on the ground, tearing up food tokens.
Knights - on their backwards chair "horses."
Lords - kneeling before their king and pledging loyalty.
The king - chillin in the big rolly squishy chair. This was his second day in our class and (I think) felt the love.

Students have asked multiple times when we will do it again.
Bonus 1: I got to throw crumpled-up papers at my students as hard as I wanted.
Bonus 2: FORTS


ELECTIVES Day 23 : Parking Lot Drills

Cycling Club is on the move! We practiced hand signals, following the leader, turns and brakes, and tested trustworthiness. They were impressive!


Day 21 : Falconing

We work in stations (or small groups, or rotations, or center, or whatever you choose to call them). One simple station today was browsing through books with info on Medieval Europe.

One student got so interested in the Medieval employment opportunities he started writing down a list of jobs he would want to have in that setting.

Yes, whiteboard markers on the desks is acceptable. : )


Day 20 : TouchJet!

We are beta testers for new technology from TouchJet... the Pond projector.
This little dude is tiny, mobile, interactive, and already hugely popular with 7th graders.

More to come, but here are just a few (very fuzzy) glimpses of us utilizing the projector to introduce our new novel I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de TreviƱo. We looked at "Last Meninas" from Diego Velazquez, examined details and artistic style, and made some predictions about the book before we started.

Students' favorite highlights:
The giant keyboard
Stylus = magic
Feeling large and in charge when sharing their ideas... even a two-sentence statement is BIG because of the epic screen behind them and the ability to manipulate it like a regular Android device!

We have only used the touchJet for mostly its traditional projector features, but we'll be diving into some of its more tantalizing aspects soon enough. Stay posted!



ELECTIVES Day 19 : Flat Repair Clinic

Blogging in real time, live from Fresno... Mike and Lindsey from local org Off the Front are here to teach Cycling Club kiddos about flat repair! I am in awe of how much little hands love to touch stuff, and Off the Front does a great job of giving them a practical, skill-based, hands-on experience.


Day 18 : Presentating

Traditionally, middle school and public speaking do not mix well.
But in my classroom we struggle through it and fight against the rising tide of awkwardness to emerge victorious, public speakers.

These mini-presentations were for an audience of a small group, five or six peers with me on the sidelines. Starting small, in a safe environment of friends, helps build their presentation confidence for later. Also, I have three groups running simultaneously, so they have to practice being loud enough to be heard!

Students presented their user guides today, sharing information about their 'operating instructions,' now with an audience to hear the fruit of their self-reflection. The looming presentation day also ups the ante of student investment in their work, knowing that somebody else will take the time to listen and see their work.

I also love mini-presentations because I get time to watch, listen, observe, and let my students do ALL the talking!

- JMF (the teacher)


Day 17 : Let's Get Digital

Cheesy blog post title aside, the User Guide assignment is one of my favorites for an early get-to-know-you (and descriptive writing with domain-specific vocabulary, and working with a template, and GoogleDrive familiarity, and self-reflection on personality traits, and mindfulness of frustration and anger, and and and...) assignment.

Snapshots today come from the middle of my nonstop grading evening (although I have just stopped to write this post).

Grading --- e-mailing my students their score on a rubric
Feedback --- leaving comments on the GoogleDocs

Many thanks to Ashley Hutchinson for the User Guide template and idea!