El mundo de Sra. Brown

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Dear Future Graduates…

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The convocation address I delivered at SUNY Brockport this past August.  It was interesting, as someone who teaches high school students, to see recent graduates standing on the front edge of their college experience.  It brought into sharp focus the complex and exciting transition that all of my students are hurdling towards.

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Sisters and Brothers

https://elmundodesrabrown.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/recording-1.m4a

Getting to know families is one of the great privileges of teaching.  Since I teach at a small, independent school, I get to follow students over multiple years and I often teach siblings (sometimes simultaneously).  In my experience, siblings are often polar opposites with decidedly unique personalities and classroom roles.  Teaching siblings often gives me greater insight into both students, and it is always a great thrill when a brothers and sisters talk about my class at home.  A few years back, one student taught his older brother (who was also my student at the time) a classroom rhyme about kitchen utensils.  I’ll never forget the smile on his face when he told me.  In the audio clip above, two sisters connect over a saying that I have all my students learn during their first weeks with me.


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QR Code Classroom Flip

 

Rules and expectations day is one of the highlights of my year.  This isn’t because I enjoy laying down the law, or because my classroom procedures are inherently interesting.  It’s because it is the perfect time to get students feedback about the classroom environment and develop their awareness of the habits, parameters, and relationships that help them learn best.  However, I usually find that there is not enough time to present the classroom procedures and reflect together about what makes a good learning community.  Over the summer the Director of Curricular Technology at my school led a discussion on flipping the classroom, a technique where students assimilate material at home and then actually use it in class.  This discussion, combined with a recent scavenger hunt blog post by my colleague, and an interesting TeachThought post on using QR (quick response) codes in the classroom, inspired me to present my rules and expectations in a different way.

Instead of gathering students together and presenting my classroom procedures in lecture format, I gave them a scavenger hunt handout with the QR code for my website.  This way, students learned the basic procedures at home and we had ample time in class to discuss their ideas about learning habits that worked for them.  For instance, one student said that deadlines really motivated her, while another explained that deadlines made him nervous and blocked him from learning.  One student said he loved projects, while another said that she preferred to work individually.  The conversation allowed students to talk about their learning styles and think about how to fit their strengths into the requirements of the class.

Flipping the class opened up more time for discussion, reflection and collaboration.  I also loved using the QR codes.  I can envision using them for school-wide scavenger hunts, vocabulary practice and also as a way to help students review before tests.  I can’t wait to try out some of these ideas!