Searching for new and interesting teaching ideas, I stumbled upon an article from The Washington Post. It describes how a veteran 14-year teacher, Alexis Wiggins, shadowed two students to experience an average day inside the classroom. After two days on “the other side,” Wiggins came away with three startling revelations. It changed her perspective on teaching and made her re-think her entire classroom scheme.
Here is the full article!
After reading the article, I began to realize how well our Standards-based jigsaw puzzles and lessons could alleviate the boredom and exhaustion that Wiggins experienced. Here’s what she learned and how she would do things differently:
Key Takeaway #1
Students sit all day, and sitting is exhausting.
If she could go back and do it again…
- mandatory stretch halfway through the class
- put a Nerf basketball hoop on the back of my door and encourage kids to play in the first and final minutes of class
- build in a hands-on, move-around activity into every single class day. Yes, we would sacrifice some content to do this – that’s fine. I was so tired by the end of the day, I wasn’t absorbing most of the content, so I am not sure my previous method of making kids sit through hour-long, sit-down discussions of the texts was all that effective.
- Station oriented lesson plans have students up and moving every 20 minutes.
- Standards in Puzzles’ jigsaw puzzles and activities get young minds and bodies ready to learn before and after class!
- Our concept is centered on “hands-on, move around activity” designed to allow students to better absorb information without sacrificing content.
Key Takeaway #2
Students are sitting passively and listening during approximately 90 percent of their classes.
If she could go back and do it again…
- Offer brief, blitzkrieg-like mini-lessons with engaging, assessment-for-learning-type activities following directly on their heels (e.g. a ten-minute lecture on Whitman’s life and poetry, followed by small-group work in which teams scour new poems of his for the very themes and notions expressed in the lecture, and then share out or perform some of them to the whole group while everyone takes notes on the findings.)
- Set an egg timer every time I get up to talk and all eyes are on me. When the timer goes off, I am done. End of story. I can go on and on. I love to hear myself talk. I often cannot shut up. This is not really conducive to my students’ learning, however much I might enjoy it.
- Ask every class to start with students’ Essential Questions or just general questions born of confusion from the previous night’s reading or the previous day’s discussion. I would ask them to come in to class and write them all on the board, and then, as a group, ask them to choose which one we start with and which ones need to be addressed. This is my biggest regret right now – not starting every class this way. I am imagining all the misunderstandings, the engagement, the enthusiasm, the collaborative skills, and the autonomy we missed out on because I didn’t begin every class with fifteen or twenty minutes of this.
Key Solution #2
- A Standards in Puzzles lesson plan does just that! For example, our
The Plot Unfolds lesson has students read through an excerpt of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and examine the plot at various learning stations. At one station, student work on the standards-based jigsaw puzzle while kids at the other five stations work on various activities such a Plot Vocabulary Foldable where each student draws out a scene from each plot segment.
- 2-3 day lesson plans are complete with activities and workshops that make the most out of your time, allowing you to make your mark without having to talk for too long.
- Essential questions are crucial in every stage of learning, which is why all of our station lesson plans are centered on them. This engages students and allows them to think critically about the subject.
Key takeaway #3
You feel a little bit like a nuisance all day long.
In a nutshell, Alexis describes the stresses that can build between a student and her teacher. Coming from a teaching background, she explains how a classroom led by a typically harried teacher can be difficult for a student.
Key Solution #3
- Standards in Puzzles products put students in charge of their own learning and emphasize the priority of teamwork. Following concise instructions working together to collaborate, analyze, and create. This gives the educator the best opportunity to get through the pitfalls of teaching unscathed and create a bond with students, year in and year out.
In conclusion, Standards In Puzzles is the best new way to complete your middle-school classroom. So head over to our Puzzle Lesson plan collection by clicking our logo to get your classroom on the right track today!