Monday, January 20, 2020

The Sheer Power of the Stop, Jot & Share

This one is about how to stay current with teaching practices.

Any teacher working under the Danielson rubric knows well the challenges of hitting those points on Danielson 3D. Apparently, if we're not "assessing throughout the entire lesson", we're just not good, real teachers.

I'm a high school social studies teacher. For us, it's almost all content and skills during the class. For years, I have received the worst advice imaginable from admins about how to approach this assessment issue.  I mean, I can understand it through the lens of a math teacher or a phys-ed teacher, but through a history teacher? History classes don't work this way. So it has always been understood that fulfilling this Danielson 3D requirement will require the breaking of the integrity of how a social studies class runs and functions.

I consider myself to be an avid protector of my profession and I do not understand this need to be always assessing everything everywhere. Upton Sinclair once wrote the exact opposite of how I feel here. "It's difficult", he said, "to get a man to understand something if his salary depends upon his not understanding it". Well, my salary depends on me understanding this assessing thing, so I'll damn well understand it as best as I can!!

And this is where the "Stop, Jot & Share" has really saved me!

Most of my lessons are workshop model in nature. Everyone has their own way and approach to creating a good lesson. Although I employ a variety of ways to use my time with students, the Workshop Model is my personal go-to (what's yours?). Typically, my mini-lesson lasts for 12 or so minutes and I use that time to introduce  the concept or topic for the day.  So, each day, at the end of my mini lesson, I use this technique. I throw up a quick questions assessing whether they were paying attention and understood what I went over in the mini-lesson and I A) Stop the lesson B) askt hem to write an answer in one sentence, then make them C) share that answer with people around them (for me, this means people in their group). When there is an AP in the room, I'll grab a clipboard or something and look like I'm keeping a detailed record (I'm not. I just look that way), but most times, I'm just eaves dropping on the kid who I wasn't quite sure about (you know, that one who was talking or sleeping or just staring out into space during the mini-lesson). Just enough to make sure they get it. If they don't, I'll intervene. If they do (and they usually do. This isn't high stakes. It's school), I'll grab my coffee and enjoy my little 3-5 minute break.
Best of all? It's got one of those wonderful, best selling little reformy names on it to make it look like something the reformy P may actually like. You can just hear it roll off your tongue, can't you? Stop Jot Share.

Problem solved.

It's actually a pretty effective technique you can use in any part of your lesson. You can read more about it here. 

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