Reading: Shift This by Joy Kirr

I love reading! I recently started “Shift This” by Joy Kirr. I’m only on page 21, but I already love this book.

My favorite quote so far, “When people from other classes visit, they often ask if there’s a teacher in the room. My answer: Heck, yes! There are twenty-six or so teachers in the room at any given time–my students.” page 3

I’m a fast reader and will sometimes go through something so quickly that I’m not really processing or thinking about what I’m reading. Throughout the book Joy has built in stopping points, with targeted questions and prompts.

One of the questions that Joy asks in Chapter 2 is “How do you start your first ten minutes with students on the first day of the school year?” I get a new group of students each trimester, and for the past two years I have started our first class together with a STEM building challenge. I used to show a PowerPoint of the classroom rules and expectations that would take the entire 40 minute period, sometimes part of the next day too. Now, I create groups in advance. At the 5 tables in my room there are directions printed out that look like a comic. They include directions for students to introduce themselves to one another, the GROUPS expectations, and the group roles for the building task. Students then have the period to complete their building challenge. As students finish they clean up their materials, I give them a handout for how to log into Google Classroom and then they answer a reflection question about their building activity.

What I like about starting class this way is that I’m not center-stage. I get to go around and introduce myself to students and see how they work. I would like to improve the flow of the first day, to maybe include a whole group discussion.

At the end of Chapter 2 there is a Reflection and Call to Action. The author leaves a section for the reader to write a response to what areas they struggle with, who could provide advice, and the tip to make a note on your to-do list to contact that person.

I think the areas that I struggle with the most are:

  • Assessment- providing enough formative assessment and the feedback that supports students and creating quality summative assessments
  • Grading- not a fan of traditional grading scales and assigning points but this is what our school uses, I don’t give homework or take off for ‘lates’.. I would like a better way to document my students’ progress to share with students and parents/guardians
  • Planning- guilty of not posting or updating my lesson plans, haven’t found a good format that I like, dislike them in general….

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