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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Are Classroom Observations Beneficial?

I just read a really interesting article on the pitfalls of classroom observations and decided to start a discussion. This is such an interesting article. Personally, I've always enjoyed observations, albeit I'm literally terrified: like bungee jumping or sky diving terrified. But they give my students a chance to show-off what they can do. This article goes into some statistics about which type of teacher got the highest evaluations based on observations, but looked even more closely at classroom composition. I agree that classroom composition plays a huge part in student achievement, and just in what I can do with them. This year I lucked out in that I have a class (2 classes actually) that are perfectly suited for projects and investigations (student-led learning) that will overall increase their achievement. Some years I can't do that because of lack of participation, behavior issues, lack of parent support. Last year's class, while I loved them, didn't have the internal motivation for much. They didn't bring back homework, I had very little parent involvement or communication, and 20 of my 24 students were extremely shy, as in painfully so. So I'm sure it looked like was only engaging the 4 students who would willingly join in discussions. I don't think observations are an ineffective tool; but classroom composition needs to be taken into account for what is being observed. Check out this article and let me know what you think.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Show and Tell Tuesday

I'm linking up with Stephanie from Forever in 5th Grade for a new monthly linky:
This is where you get to show some cool things happening in your life or in your classroom, and tell the world about them. After you read my post, go back to the original linky by clicking on the button above. 

First, a show and tell from home. We had 2 very old cats pass away this fall, so we thought it was time for a new member of the family, and let me tell you, it is not easy to find a kitten in December! But we managed to snatch up Elfie 2 days before Christmas. Her first adventure in the Trouten household: climbing up the Christmas tree!

I have the best students in the world! I was very sick over Thanksgiving break, and even missed the first day back. Still not feeling up to par the next day, I told my students it would be a while before I got the Christmas decorations up in the classroom. Half my class showed up during their lunch recess to decorate for me!

Nevada has adopted the Next Generation Science Standards, and fortunately our district offered a free class for anyone interested. Of course I jumped right on that! To celebrate, I'm going to share a couple of my science displays. This first one is a collaborative research project. Students are divided into groups, assigned an ecosystem, assigned individual roles within those groups, and they then work together to make a display for their ecosystem to teach to the rest of the class. Here are this year's displays:

Another science project: near the beginning of the year we made vertebrate/invertebrate pop-up books. I've been doing this activity for a couple of years now, and it works so well I decided it was time to put my unit together for TPT. So here is a picture of the performance assessment that goes along with my newest product: 5 kingdoms of living things.