Last Week’s Habit
First of all, last week’s habit was a success! Not only have all of my students sat with in the circle for class meetings all week--I have not engaged in a single power-struggle in my classroom! I expect that this is due to the fact that I have just thought through a plan so I remain calm when I need to ask students to do things such as the group. My students are incredibly attuned reading the emotions in others and they seem to be responding to my confidence. I am really trying to focus to “Be Proactive” by controlling my behavior more than theirs.
As soon as I heard Dr. Pumpian introduce the habit of “Starting with the End in Mind,” I quickly made a connection to backwards design. After hearing Jake Bowker talk about his use of backwards design in his math class, I began to research the method myself. When I sat down to begin planning my curriculum for the upcoming year, I began a thorough examination of all of the Common Core Content Standards for English-Language Arts Grades 9-10. As I attempted to draft a plan to map the standards throughout my courses, my inquiry led to a study of embedded formative assessments and standards-based grading. I realized that I needed to select power standards/learning goals for the upcoming trimester and then align and sequence all of my lessons to help my students grow and hopefully demonstrate mastery by the end of the trimester.
I know that many teachers already use backwards design to plan their curriculum. However, I had only heard the phrase, so this was quite a challenge for me. This week, my students and I began the trimester with a focused academic end in mind. We have eleven learning goals and each lesson supports a learning goal. The use of standards-based grading is helping/forcing me to remain focused on these goals and avoid distractions, such as grading based on behaviors. The students have expressed that they are grateful to have a specific list of goals. I am looking forward to seeing how planning a trimester “with the end in mind” will look at the end of the semester.
Teaching the Habit
The phrase “Maslow before Marzano” has been floating around my district lately. As I reflected upon last week’s habit lesson with Damon, I began to take this into consideration. After I picked him up from his night class, I immediately began explaining the habit to him. I was getting him ready for higher order thinking before checking in with him. He was probably tired, hungry, and in need of a bit more of a personal connection than a lesson. (For the record, I knew better. I intentionally begin my classes with a face-to-face class meeting to establish a personal connection before we begin academic learning. Maybe I was hungry and tired, too?) So, this week, I tried a different approach: sushi.
After checking in with Damon and complimenting him upon hearing about a successful group project in one of his classes, I jumped into a quick and focused lesson. I told him the habit and asked him what he thought it meant. Then I prompted him to: