Monday, December 2, 2013

Teaching perseverance--through "learning posters"!

If any of you follow my blog regularly, you know that I love to push my students in math.  I like to help not only improve their math skills but also their attitudes about math.  Sometimes I think it's hard for people to believe that the way to do this is not to make things easier--but to coach kids through challenges!  If you are interested in reading my first blog post about perseverance, click here.
This is one of my "Kid Friendly" Standards for Mathematical Practice posters... click it to see more!
Today I want to briefly talk about how using "learning posters" in the classroom can contribute to students' engagement and can work to improve perseverance.  Although it seems like a simple concept, I have found this to be one of the most powerful tools I have in my back pocket to improve student effort, willingness to persevere, cooperation, and eventually presentation skills!

A learning poster is simply a large sheet of construction paper that we use to record something "noteworthy" that happens in our learning--a tricky problem solved in a unique way, a solution to something that no one else has found, a cool "discovery" that happened in science class, a really creative lead or conclusion to a piece of writing--anything that might be worth sharing with the class.

These unfold in one of two ways in my classroom--either I initiate it with something like, "You know, Kevin, if you keep pushing and finish this problem, it might be worth making a learning poster to share with the class."  


"Becca and Kim--it looks like you took a totally new approach to that problem.  When you finish, would you put it on a learning poster to share?"

Here is an example of a learning poster where a student tried "guessing and checking" to solve a problem and got it!  He was super organized about how he kept track of his work in his notebook, so I asked if he would be willing to make a learning poster to show the rest of the class what he did.

But what is even MORE fun is when the students themselves ask if they can make a learning poster!  When they feel they have done something interesting or unique or helpful, they can grab a piece of paper and make one to share.  We did have some discussions about not EVERYTHING is learning poster worthy!  We reserve them for interesting solutions...for creative thinking...for super high quality work/organization...for examples of perseverance.  The students do a pretty nice job of self-monitoring.

Here's an example of a student-created learning poster to show what his group did in science when they were really stuck making their circuit light.  They were frustrated at first, and then worked through it and wanted to tell everyone what they did!

Here's what's key.  These are NOT meant to be masterpieces.  They have already done the work, so the last thing I want them to do is spend MORE time making a detailed poster.  They are not meant to be a fancy display--they are meant to help them present to the class.  Sometimes I just throw student work under the document camera...but this allows them to take their initial work, streamline it, organize it if necessary, and "tidy it up" a little.  It ALSO can be more permanent.  I leave posters like this up for several days so we can refer back to them if needed.

So...give it a try!  I am pretty passionate about the concept of perseverance and the impact it can have on student learning.  I have been mulling over for months how to share some of the things I do, and this is one of them!  If you are interested in learning more, I did put a ton of my ideas together along with a set of 24 CHALLENGING problems to be used to help teach perseverance in the math class.  I'm pretty excited about it and I think it can be a real game changer for many students!  If you are interested, check it out!

A part of this resource is that I took all the problems and made enlarged versions to use as "learning poster headers".  You can see that in the math learning poster photo in this post.  Saves time!
Don't forget it's the big TpT Cyber Monday sale today and tomorrow!  Make sure to use your "CYBER" code at the check out to get your additional discounts!  Have a wonderful week--and happy shopping!

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