FREEZE! Improving group work to be challenging and supportive

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If you teach, you’ve seen it.  There are students with high status that tend to dominate group work and feel more confident speaking.  Likewise, there are those students that don’t feel like they have much to offer and often end up with their heads down, off task, or, at best, quietly listening to the conversation.

The goal of group work is an equitable sharing of ideas that allows all students to be challenged and supported.  What I found was missing was an easy way to celebrate students that stepped up to ask a question and admit they were confused or to celebrate students that were empathic and attentive to the needs of struggling students.

The freeze card was an idea stolen from a district PD which was then developed further to aid my specific students.  Below is iteration 3.0.  I began with just FREEZE.  Then, realized that students didn’t know how to have conversations after it had been laid.  Thus, I added some sentence frames to the back of the card.  Bouncing ideas off another colleague we arrive at the current card below.

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 8.57.35 PMScreen Shot 2018-03-15 at 8.57.44 PM

 

It should be noted that this idea was implemented at least six weeks ago and the actual use in class is slow, but consistent framing and celebrations when students lay the card have led to more and more use.  Just today, a student laid the card down and no one in the group stopped to explain.  I took the moment to celebrate the student and said “Nice job!  This student gets 10 points but everyone else in the group loses 2 points because they did not freeze to explain.”  That woke them up and soon they were talking. (it should be noted that points were arbitrary – I had no idea what I meant by that but it got them working!)

What are your thoughts?  What would you change for version 4.0?  What else do you do to encourage equitable conversations and group work?

 

Substitute? No, I’m a visiting teacher.

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Recently, a colleague was out from school, and I decided to check-in on the class during my prep period to make sure everything was running smoothly.  As I walked in I heard a student say, “no mister, when we have a sub our teacher let’s us have our phones out.”  The teacher quickly replied, “I see.  Well I’m not a sub, though, I’m actually visiting teacher today.”  This was one of the wittiest quips I’ve ever heard and loved it.  He had everything more than under control.

After returning the next day, my colleague emailed our team about her new strategy for when she was gone.

“On sub days I have been trying to track student work completion and hold students accountable. I ask that the sub sign their work packets only if students have been working the whole time and not copying from others. For obvious reasons I can’t be 100% sure kids weren’t copying, but overall the sub signature system seems to work. I then make a graph of student completion by class and show it as an opening the next day. I ask students to reflect on how they did; what was successful, what could they improve, how they felt in class, etc.”

Here’s the difference of work completion from the first time she was gone to the second.Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 8.11.57 PM Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 8.12.12 PM

I love how this strategy increases accountability as well as the opportunity for students to reflect on why working with a substitute can be valuable.  Whether we end up with an average substitute or a visiting teacher, I think this idea is exciting and worth trying!

What other ideas do you use to motivate students when you are absent?

My favorite growth mindset ideas

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I was recently asked by a friend to pass along my favorite growth mindset materials.  His company jumped on the buzzword bandwagon and was spreading the growth mindset message.  He was wondering if I had some other supplemental resources that would be helpful and less focused on the student/ school perspective.

The first to come to mind were these:

1.) Neuroplasticity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELpfYCZa87g&t=1s

2.) “How Praise Became a Consolation Prize” – A reflection by Dweck about what people have gotten wrong about growth mindset. http://How Praise Became a Consolation Prize

3.) Understanding the Importance of Fixed Mindset – My own thoughts and reflections and anecdote. http://caseyulrich.com/2017/07/understanding-the-importance-of-fixed-mindset/

4.) This photo

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What other resources should be added to this list?