Week One of My Plan: Feb 22-24




I have never been so excited to write than I am today. This week I implemented my plan. This was a three day school week for me. Monday was no school due to President’s day and Tuesday I was out attending a training on Success Criteria (it was really good by the way). I only have three days of reflection but it really went better than I thought. I want to reflect on each part of my plan. Let’s get into it!

Part 1: No Cell Phone

The first part of my plan was to have students put their cell phone away until halfway into the work time. I gave them a few minutes at the beginning of the class to send that last text or scroll through TikTok. Once the time was up, I told students they had to put the phone in their bag or the envelope. I actually thought many students would opt to put their phone in the cell phone envelope because it was easy to get access. However, most opted to put it in their backpack or pocket. I didn’t think about putting it in their pocket. Students who did this were often the ones I had to give warnings. The vibration made them want to pull it out as well as a couple wanted to just sneak and pull it out. I had to adjust this and tell them that it could not be in their pocket. Those who put it in their backpack never had to be warned.

The only time this part of the plan failed was during the work time and it was just during my worst class periods. As you remember from my first post, only two classes were really bad. More students in these class wanted to put it in their pocket. When students started to work, they wanted to pull it out. On the second day of the plan, one of my worst class of the two pulled them out a lot while they were at the whiteboard and tried to work with groups I didn’t assign them. I turned on my mother on fire voice again and they became the model class for the rest of the week. Again, raising your voice is not the best option. However, don’t beat yourself up if you do. Apologize and work on it.

As I reflect on this part of the plan, the only adjustment I will make is that I will emphasize the phone has to be in the envelope or their backpack. No pockets and no air buds or headphones in the ears. This will still remain away until part of the work time is over. I will keep having my classes who actually do well with the phone to not have it for part of the work time as well. Many of them said paying attention helped them. I need to use this to help them see how going back and forth between looking at their phone and being fully involved in the lesson gives different results.

Student reflection from the weekly learning organizer

Part 2: Low Tech

The second part of my plan was to have students operate on a low tech basis for at least a week. This decision along with no cell phones was the most successful part of the plan. It makes no sense to go completely no tech in the year 2023. I was reminded of how some tools that we don’t think of as tech tools are powerful for learning. I know we don’t think of whiteboards and paper as tech but it is. As the Oxford definition states below, technology is the application of our scientific knowledge for practical purposes. It has been so long since whiteboards and paper were invented but it was the application of our knowledge that helped us write and was transformative at the time of invention.

Definition of technology according to Oxford

The white board provided great support to helping students learn operations with rational expressions. A few students, especially in one of my most challenging classes, shared that the whiteboard was one of the activities that helped them learn. As a result, I am going to make the use of whiteboards a part of my plan. I want to try some other strategies so it may not be everyday but it will be a significant amount.

Student reflection from the weekly learning organizer

The weekly learning organizer showed to be a better tool to support learning than I anticipated. Every day, students followed a structure to write what occurred during the mini-lesson. On the last day of the week, students used their entries from each day along with assessments to reflect on their learning in the final column. I collected the organizers each day to examine how well students were progressing in their learning. Some students were not completing the organizer. I met with these students the next day to engage them. Sometimes they were the same students who were still sneaking to be on their phones. I will keep collecting the organizer each day and I am going to model more ways to complete the organizer. I need to model the reflection portion the most.

This is a portion of the weekly learning organizer.

The graphing calculator provided a great low tech way to gather students understanding on the spot. It also enabled me to not have to be at the copy machine every day. Although it did have some glitches that I will explain later, it provided a better discussion about student answers when the problem was not multiple choice. For example, during the lesson portion on Thursday, students had a couple of problems to do as a class using the graphing calculator. It required them write the answer into the calculator. One of my classes had some great common mistake answers that we were able to discuss. We talked about why the top was the correct answer and how the wrong answers were achieved. All of this was guided by the students. I just asked the class questions.

The display of students answers form the question in the graphing calculator.

This exchange was a great example of two instructional influences identified by John Hattie as having a positive effect on learning and ones we are working on in my district. The first influence is effective classroom questioning and the other is effective feedback. I am going to need to share this with my department since we are all working on an instructional influence and a better way to use our calculators.

Part 3: Assessing Student Learning

This is the only part of the plan that had multiple glitches. It was not enough to stop the plan. It was just what normally happens with training students on a new tool or way of working. Let’s talk about it in two parts: graphing calculator/whiteboard and weekly learning plan.

Graphing Calculator/Whiteboard

Given I had not use the navigator system of the tool in a while, it had some glitches that I had to work through like some students missing in the database and some features didn’t work like before. There were also a few calculators that would not connect. This caused my large class to take up a lot more time getting logged on. I am still troubleshooting why some of the features are not working but I got most of the issues resolved by the second day. It is not bad enough to stop using the tool. Once I figured out the issues, my ability to assess students was amazing. It was great to see a breakdown of students thinking like I am able to do with nearpod.

The first time students worked on the whiteboard, they just had to work one problem. I realized after the first day that this did not show me the range in their ability and I also could not see who did what because no names were attached. The following day I required a problem of each type and their name. This helped me see so much in real time. It was also great to see some classes jumped right in with helping each other. We have been working on getting them to help each other but we keep falling short. We finally seem to be making progress in this area!

There was also one instance where.a student refused to show a problem. I wish I could say it ended with this nice bow. It didn’t. It ended with me sending the student to the office for refusal to work. Thankfully, it didn’t disrupt the class. Most of the kids were into their own whiteboard and didn’t notice the interaction. I talked with the students parents which helped understand some of the situation but the student then didn’t come to school for the remainder of the week. If they do not come another day this week, I am going to call home again. Stay tuned for more on this part.

Weekly Learning Plan

As I mentioned earlier, there were a few students who were not filling out the learning plan at all or only partial. This tool was one of my main was to assess student learning and unfortunately not all students were filling it out in the way I intended. Meeting with students who didn’t fill it out at all the next day helped. I am going to have to make it more explicit at the beginning of the class. There were also times where students kept the paper instead of turning it in. I am going to have to make sure I wrap up the class early enough to collect it from everyone.

More to Come

I am excited to implement some of the changes this week. I was going to start putting tech back in this week but I think I am going to keep this method until we come back from spring break. I think I am going to need that much time for them to realize how beneficial it is to regulate yourself with technology. Stay tuned for more updates.

About the author, Telannia Norfar

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