Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Are Your Students' Projects POINTLESS?

As most of you know, I teach gifted students (3rd-5th) through a pull-out program by grade level while also teaching whole-group enrichment classes grades K-4.  I also have small groups of high achievers (not identified as gifted--yet) whom I meet with as well.  I love what I do even though my time with each group is so limited.  This limited time makes it difficult to get everything done, which I'm sure is a problem for EVERY teacher, no matter what they teach.  Because of this limited time, many of our projects are completed outside of class.  So projects are assigned, usually by a choice board, deadlines are given, we discuss ideas, and the students return with their projects ready to present.  Yippee, right?

Wrong.  Or at least sometimes wrong.  Sometimes my students create these projects, and I can't figure out the point.  Like, what are you trying to say?  For example, my 3rd grade gifted students read an amazing book this fall, The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester. Incredible book.  The students loved it.  It is filled with jaw-dropping twists and turns, good versus evil, etc.  But when my kiddos presented their projects, some of them were just.... meh.  Now some of them were really good, but others... not so much.  So this year when it came time to begin our projects, I had a plan.  Well, I had a plannER.  Let me show you.

What I created is a graphic organizer to help students gather their thoughts and plan their project.  Many times I think that students just want to create something pretty, but they don't think about the actual learning that they are supposed to be demonstrating.  Although this organizer is detailed and there are lots of spaces to fill, I think this can be a valuable tool to help students achieve.  I used this with my 3rd grade gifted students, and they didn't like it.  I laughed!  Of course they didn't; it meant they had to think more! But for the ones who actually thought about their plans and filled out the organizer, this planner really helped them to produce better work.  I was so proud of them!

You can click on the link below to download your own copy for free!  Please leave feedback if you like it!

I would love to hear your comments, suggestions, and any ideas you have for helping students create amazing projects!  Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Project Procrastination: Are You Paralyzed by Fear?

Are you a procrastinator?  Do you tell yourself that you "work best under pressure"?  Maybe you're "thinking about" your project or your lesson plans or doing the laundry...Welp, I am a procrastinator.  A bad one.  I have lots and lots and lots and lots of ideas.  And I want to share them with you.  So why haven't I?  Hmmm.... must  be that pesky procrastination problem.

But let me 'fess up.  When I first started this blog, I was SO excited!  I couldn't go to sleep at night because I was just so pumped up to be embarking on this journey!  So why the procrastination?  I think of myself as a confident person, and I really feel--or think I feel--like I can do just about anything I set my mind to.  So, why haven't I?


When I started the blog, I couldn't wait to use this forum for many purposes:  to help teachers with those brainiacs who need to be pushed to excellence and past, to advocate for the needs of gifted students, and last but not least, to supplement my income.  This girl seriously needs a swimming pool.  And a new car. Ha!  Wouldn't that be amazing?!  So, what happened?  Well, lemme tell ya...

Sometimes I need a new filter.  Or even a filter AT ALL!  Anybody with me?  I just get all upset and emotional and excited over all the needs that these students have.  And I don't always take the time to really think things over.  So right after I started the blog, I ranted and vented about my daughter's experience at school.  And that went over really well...  Let's just say I got to visit the superintendent's office over it.  Not exactly my idea of a good time.

So here comes the paralyzing fear.  That negative response has been so hard to get over, so hard to get past.  And every time I have ideas or start to post something or create a product, fear takes over.  Will people like it?  Is it good enough to share?  Will this somehow get me into trouble?  But after much disappointment in myself and a meaningful moment in church, I am realizing that I am addicted to this procrastination thing.  So I am coming out fighting.

Help, prayers, and support would certainly be appreciated!

Love to all, Carol Ann