I just finished reading my colleague Stacey Roshan’s book, Tech with Heart. It.is.amazing. Stacey shares her incredible journey and shows strength and vulnerability. I have been lucky to work with Stacey while I have been at Bullis. Typically, the first thing that I do when I find a tech tool is email Stacey to ask her advice on it! While Stacey is a math teacher, her ideas have influenced my thinking in a variety of ways.
In her book, she talks about how a classroom can recognize introverts. I can relate to this because I have changed my grading and class participation based on some of the reasons Stacey discusses in her book. In my second year of teaching, I taught a sweet boy in second grade with brown hair and glasses. He didn’t participate much, so my only understanding of his understanding was when we would have assessments or I would do checks for understanding. Then, at the end of the year, we were playing a Jeopardy review game of the whole year. He knew every single word that I asked! His face lit up when he realized that no one else knew some the of the answers, and I realized that just because a student doesn’t participate doesn’t mean that he or she doesn’t know the answers. That was one of my biggest lightbulbs when I found out that I could never grade participation. If I did, his grade would be low, and it truly wouldn’t reflect what he knew.
Stacey discusses how she has used PearDeck, Flipgrid and EdPuzzle in her classes to transform them and give a space for introverts who prefer to have time to think. While I have been using these tools for years, Stacey’s book made me rethink how I can use them even more to transform my classes. I love pre-made PearDecks, but another feature that I love about them is that I can just open one up and start asking questions aloud. Especially in May when I have four preps, it is just easier to do this. However, the other day, I decided to ask a social-emotional question at the beginning of my PearDeck. I asked students what they were happy about recently. I told them to respond in English and that I wouldn’t project their responses. While many of them wrote that they were happy for the end of the school year, some students wrote a few things that really provided insight into what is going on with their lives.
That was when it hit me! I have mostly shied away from assigning a ton of homework due to the fact that a lot of research questions the validity of the homework. However, I realized that PearDeck may be the key for me to gather some of this information consistently and help me plan for my classes especially around novels. The homework load would still be light, but it would be valuable. For example, I can make a three to four question slide deck for homework. I can include one social-emotional question that I can vary. (PearDeck even has some sample ones that I can use!) Then, I can ask students a few questions to help them recall the chapter. This will also fit nicely with retrieval practices. Some ideas that I am thinking about include:
- write a 3-4 sentence summary of the chapter in Spanish or English (depending on the level)
- draw a timeline of events in the past chapter
- write 3-4 new words that you learned or remember from the book that are important
- how does this part affect other parts of the book
- make a prediction based on what happened in the last chapter
Then, based on what my students say, I can reiterate any parts that they do not understand at the beginning of class. As Stacey also points out, I can have students look at these decks before a quiz to help them study. I can also find time to discuss with my students how they are doing based on their responses to the other questions.
Another idea that Stacey shared in her book is having students reflect on the year using Sutori. I love this idea! I believe that I can alternate this assignment with PearDeck every other week. This way, students can use the feedback that I give them after assessments to discuss their growth. I have been inconsistent with how students use my feedback and reflect. This is a low-prep homework idea from me that will help students in the long run, and it will provide more insight for me to see how students feel.
I highly recommend Stacey’s book because it is a great insight to how students feel with anxiety and perfectionism and how we can lessen the burden! I know that you will come away with your own takeaways and how you can apply it to the foreign language classroom.