Do you know how to set up the homework on the Chromebooks and assign student work on HMH? If so, I would like to make an appointment to learn this. Please, I need help. Thank you.
Hurrying to the door 50 seconds after our scheduled time, Lia was apologetic as she held a stack of freshly-printed handouts, her lunch, her keys, and whatever composure she had left from what was evidently another stressful day. This was her prep, but it needed to be more than that; the feeling of being lapped by her colleagues, the data showing a good percentage of students struggling, and the helplessness all engulfing what truly is a good teacher who has worked hard her entire career.
"So, do you know how to assign homework in HMH? I found out how to create assignments, but I need something more for my kids. They just aren't engaged, and I need to try a new approach."
"Let's take a look. I think I can help."
I'm pretty good when it comes to using our online textbook, but even I was getting frustrated and she saw that. Lia was looking to me for an answer and all I was doing was co-signing her bill of "this is too much."
"So what is it that you want to do with the online textbook," I asked.
"I want to make it more interactive for the kids. Sometimes I show them the videos, but they think, well, they think he's kind of nerdy. Basically, I need them to be more engaged. Look at this (showing me a list of her class grades). They're bad, and I need to do something else. I need help. Here's what I made up for them; it's some of the problems from the textbook that I liked and so I hand-wrote them. Can you think of anything else?"
"Those are OK, but it seems like I just need to make my own."
We walked through the handout from the picture above, step by step, really talking through what she hoped the students would learn from the problems. With that basis pulling a thread through the entire activity, we came up with something for students to learn the basics of functions. Here you go:
Functions Desmos Activity Builder
For 18 minutes, Lia was empowered to really wrap her head around what her students would be doing with an activity, carefully building each step of the process. This isn't a perfect activity for your class, and probably won't be one she uses next year, but it was perfect for what she is doing and where her class is at right now. That's what technology can do for us as educators and for our students.
I get the chance to do a lot of fun, great, and cool things with my job. Not very much is more rewarding to me than giving an overwhelmed teacher the spark necessary to take a risk and try something new in the classroom. Lia is doing her self-created activity with students on Monday and I'll be waiting by the phone to hear how it goes.
What are you doing to switch things up? How are you taking a risk with your students, your content, or your daily schedule?
Happy "Spark" Fishing