Friday, December 2, 2016

Word finds are GREAT for student learning!

No. No they are not.  A few kids enjoy them.  Most do not.  They do not help kids learn.  Stop doing them for the purpose of improving vocabulary or better spelling.  There are much better ways.

Also, very few kids like The Quiet Game.  Most hate it.  They know what you need from them.  Kids choose their friends as the "most quiet" classmate.  Other kids purposely lose quickly because they know deep down inside that they will not be chosen.   Playing the quiet game really just sets the stage for you to be able to more easily spot the talkers.  Let's teach them how to talk to each other appropriately.  If too many kids are unable to act appropriately in the hallway, it is your fault.  If it is only one or two kids, address them individually.  Find a better way.

This week we are learning the letter R!  Letter of the week is irrelevant.  What a contrary and meaningless way to help young students gain ownership of the alphabet.  Start with the letters in their name.  Use environmental print. Stop cutting out 8 little letter R's and gluing them next to eight pictures of things that supposedly start with the letter R.  Kids need to learn letters and sounds through relevant language.  Worksheets with poorly drawn Rats do not help kids learn the capital R.  We can do letters better.

Copying off the board needs to end.  I'm not talking about copying a problem or an expectation for a learning activity.  I'm talking about copying a poem or a paragraph.  Don't make kids copy something that someone else has written.  If kids need to write something down, let them write their own words!  Copying is not learning.  Design something better.

Sitting out at recess for forgetting homework does not help kids remember their homework.  The kids who habitually lose their homework are only missing out on the movement they probably need.  The kids who always remember the homework simply see a stick pointed their direction.  Compliance out of fear is not the best way to do it.  Paying kids with rewards isn't the best way either.  Build intrinsic motivation by giving them better ownership of their behaviors and consequences.

Rainbow writing does not improve writing.  It does not help kids become better writers or spellers.  It does not increase engagement for the great majority of students.  It is a waste of time.  Kids are more thoughtful about choosing the colors instead of correct spelling.  I don't even know what pyramid writing is but it looks worthless.  Writing spelling words five times each is not good.   Spelling is tough to teach, but there are much better ways.

Round Robin reading still happens.  Oh my goodness, why?  The lack of engagement is beyond obvious.  The below-level readers cannot read the text.  Kids more than a couple of reading lower than the text can't even follow along.  Most kids don't follow along.  The high readers are bored to tears!  There are better ways.

These suggestions are not new.  These strategies were equally ineffective in 1994, my first year of teaching.  They were ineffective in 1979, when I was a 5th grader.  They are still ineffective, yet they still happen.

When educational practices are proven to be effective for all students, keep doing them.  The strategies highlighted above are not effective.  They are also not engaging or fun.  They are not fun for the kids or for the teacher.  Design better learning activities.