Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Embrace Life Advertisement

Below is an advertisement from the UK about wearing your seat belt. I find it very moving and I like the style of this advertisement. I agree with what the Adverblog says about this advertisement and "the happy consequences of using it (the seat belt), instead of the rawness showing what happens if you don't."

I have always worn my seatbelt, and wearing one prevented a lot of trouble for me one snowy day in January, 2009 when 58 other cards and mine decided to have a small get-together on the highway. Check out the website of The Suffolk Safer Roads for information on this incredible collaborative effort going on in Suffolk. Anyone know of something similar in the United States?

Buckle up folks!

Monday, February 22, 2010

HIV Transmission Activity

NOTE: This post is in the process of being edited for reposting, due to its popularity. Please check back later this week (the week of 2/6/2011) for a re-post!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Formative Assessment in My Health Classroom

Last year, my district spent a lot of time on formative assessment. Unlike its counterpart, summative assessment, formative assessment is a great way to provide the teacher with immediate feedback on what their students are taking out of a lesson, including what the students are learning or not learning. Many formative assessment techniques also double as excellent activators or closures to begin or end class. Ultimately, formative assessment provides the teacher with valuable feedback as to how to adapt a current or future lesson in order to meet the needs of their students. Because we as teachers are constantly adapting how we teach content, formatively assessing students is a great way to achieve instant feedback without waiting until the end of a unit.

There are hundreds of ways to use formative assessment in any classroom. Below are some examples that I have tried (some successfully, others still need work) or want to try in my middle school health classroom. Through collaboration with my colleagues across all departments, I'm always able to find new things to try.

1. Boogie Boards. Regular dry erase boards are very expensive, but Home Depot has a cheaper alternative! Go to your local Home Depot or Lowes and find a big sheet of showerboard. I don't remember exactly what I used, but the workers may know what you're talking about. Have a worker cut it into 12 inch x 12 inch squares, and for about 15-20 bucks (I wasn't charged for the cutting when I told them what I was using it for) I walked out with 25-30 cheap dry erase boards! These do not erase as easily as regular dry erase boards, but that's not really a problem. I've used these in many ways:
  • as a pre-assessment, using data from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey to see students' perceived attitudes about drug use in the school.
  • as a review: putting questions on the Smartboard (multiple choice, true/false, etc) and having students write down the answers. They then hold up the boards and I have instant feedback on if they get the answers right or not.
  • as part of the "Back Art" activity created by Tom Jackson. This isn't a formative assessment, but it's a great activity I use to introduce communication.
They've been a great tool! The students always love being able to use dry erase markers, too. I have a bunch of old ones they use...no one is touching my new markers!

2. Stoplight Cards. Stoplight cards are on my to-do list for February break. These are easy to make and last a pretty long time if you laminate them. As you may have gathered from the name, each student will need a set of three small index cards or pieces of construction paper: one green, one yellow, and one red, preferably. Youcould also just make index cards with "A" "B" "C" "D" on each one. Some colleagues of mine will use a hole puncher to punch one hole on the corner of them and hold them together with an individual binder ring. These cards can be used to check for understanding in the middle of a lesson. I can pose a question to the class and receive immediate feedback based on their answers. If needed, I can spend more time on a section or move on. The color scheme helps me understand how students feel about overall concepts we're discussing in class as well.

3. Sheet Protector Anatomy Review. This idea came from a geography teacher from across the hall, who uses this as a study technique for reviewing locations on maps. Each student has a typical sheet protector and a dry erase or wet-erase marker. It saves money if you have one classroom set, but it's not unreasonable for students to provide their own, either. For this, I conduct a review after we go over the parts and functions of the male/female reproductive systems. I'll hand out a diagram of the male and female reproductive systems, with numbers next to each. Students will then take their marker and try to fill in as many of the blanks as possible. Next time, I'll probably use a word bank for this. This allows me to see which parts/functions the students are aware of (some of them are obvious...) and the parts I need to clarify.

4. GO-GO-MO: Give One, Get One, Move On. I initially learned about this during day one of The Skillful Teacher course. During that class, we used this to share different classroom management strategies. This activity is a great activator and gets the students out of their seats and moving around. Each student has a handout with a 3x3 table on it. At their desks, they fill in the top three boxes based on a prompt you give them. I might tell them, "Think of three positive strategies you can use to help stop bullying in our school." They jot three ideas that they can think of down, and then go around the room getting other ideas from their classmates. They can only write down ideas not already on their lists. After this activity is completed, we have a pretty comprehensive list of strategies we can use to help stop bullying! It's a great way to see how other students in the class think if you're looking for opinion type data. Another example I could use is to list examples of tobacco's effect on the cardiovascular system. A science colleague of mine uses this when he talks about different types of cells. Here's a link to a PDF of a GO-GO-MO sheet.

5. Popsicle Sticks. A simple, cheap tool with multiple uses. At the start of each trimester, I'll have my students each take a popsicle stick (I buy the large ones at a craft store) and write their name and period on them. I'll use them to randomly call on students during a lesson, asking them to summarize points I've made or to explain a concept to a friend. This is helpful to me when we talk about subjects such as the effects of alcohol on the human body because not all students have a grasp of the human body systems. It also helps keep the students paying attention, although I have found that many hate the "dreaded popsicle sticks" and will willingly participate instead of being called on randomly. But, I like it because it helps with universal participation. I use them to split students up into random groups, too. Take out the absent students and thrown down sticks like we used to do for pond hockey. I also have a separate set that are colored for the same purpose.

6. Crumpled Paper. Fun for the kids, but not very green. Have students take some scrap paper and write down a question they still have towards the end of a lesson. Once it's written down, they can crumple it up and toss it to the front of the room. Then, pick the
m up and open the question. You could also have the students throw them randomly around the room and have each student pick one up to see if they can answer it. As always, you should set some ground rules before you do this. I don't use this too often (maybe twice a year), but the kids love it. I've used this as a mini-activator for the first day of school with my sixth graders, who responded to the prompt, "What about middle school makes you nervous?" The anonymity helped kids be honest.

These are only a few examples of the countless ways you could use formative assessment in your classroom. This post is only a guide with a few ideas. Please try these out in your own classroom, and let me know how it goes! Last year, all the science teachers read a specific book about applying formative assessment to their curriculum, and I have been able to use some of their ideas in my own classroom. Experimentation is part of what makes teaching fun!
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