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Thursday, March 31, 2016

What To Do After Testing

It is so hard to believe that testing season is officially here. In Texas, 8th grade is considered and SSI year. What is SSI? It means Student Success Initiative and translate into crazy amounts of testing. The 8th graders, if they failed their state assessment, get to have mandatory remedial tutoring and retake the test again in May. If they fail again, they go to summer school and take the test again in June. This all occurs because they must pass the test in order to advance to high school.

So, yeah. Here we are in March and my 8th graders just took their math state assessment on Tuesday. Buuuutttt...what do I do with the other 11 weeks of school???

Since I am not only math but also special education, I fill in this time with a combination of things:
  1. I focus on personal financial literacy for my students. Not only are they state standards, but I will do a lot of real-world practice such as learning to budget for an apartment or food. This is an area that ANY student needs to know before they graduate high school, and sadly, many of my students are definitely not being taught good skills at home.
  2. I will reteach areas that have been a weakness for my students this school year. As optimistic as I am, there is a good chance that at least a few of my students will not pass their state assessment and will have to take it again in May. By reteaching math skills, my students will not have a chance to forget everything they have learned this year and will get to have extra practice at mastering those skills before retaking their state assessment.
  3. I will teach some new skills that will prepare my students for Algebra I in high school. By pre-teaching some of the skills, my students will (hopefully) have a leg-up when high school comes around because they have seen some of the beginning Algebra I skills before. This will make the transition at the beginning of the school year easier for the teachers that will receive my students next year.
By doing a combination of all 3 of these, I am hoping I give my students the best possible advantage in all areas the last 11 weeks they are with me. However, I am always open to learn from the seasoned pros about better ways to utilize the time after state assessments.

If you have any ideas on how to best use time after state assessments, please leave a comment below so that other people can share in your knowledge.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Great Paperless Quest of 2016

Hello all,

Today I'm sharing a tutorial I put together for how to create an electronic rubric using Google Sheets! 

After inheriting a new classroom with three filing cabinets and a built-in bookcase full of old binders and papers, I decided this year was the year I went completely paperless. I started having students write their essays on Google Docs and submit them via Google Classroom. Not surprisingly, it was a game changer! It's a million times easier to keep track of who's turned in their work and who hasn't, and I don't have to deal with carrying around a giant stack of papers anymore! I also love being able to type my comments rather than write them by hand. 

The only thing lingering was that pesky rubric. It felt wrong to have everything electronic but still have to pull out those paper rubrics when I wanted to start grading. After trying some Google add-ons with little success, I decided to make my next rubric in Google Sheets -- and since I'm a language arts teacher who despises math (sorry math teachers), I popped in a quick formula so the rubric will actually do the math for me! Then I just copy and paste the rubric at the bottom of their assignment, and wah-lah, grading ninja magic!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

BINGO Project Menu Boards

Hey all,

Tori here from An English Teacher's Journey Through the Middle, and I am going to discuss my favorite way to handle that dead period after testing.

Once state testing is over, the happy dance begins, but the looming question arises, “What do I do now?” Have no fear, project time is here. I don't mean projects just for the sake of keeping students busy and out of your hair (although that is an added bonus), but projects that provide student choice, that develop research and presentation skills, that blend creativity and productivity, and that fill those last few weeks with fun and learning.

I LOVE this time of year! Testing wraps up and I can finally start enjoying my students again. As an eighth grade teacher, this becomes a very special time because my lovelies will be heading off to high school in a few short weeks, and I want to ensure our last days together leave them with a plethora of fun memories. After dealing with the dead time after testing for 16 years, and many sets of projects that when remembered are tear-inducing recollections of stress, I have found Project Menu Boards to be the best way to fill in the after testing time.

I set up Project Menu Boards in the form of a BINGO card. The BINGO card allows for a tremendous amount of student choice, and therefore hooks students immediately. Students can complete a traditional BINGO row or column, make it simple and finish a row or column in a group, become super overachievers and bust out a project a day for the last four to six weeks, etc., the possibilities are endless.  The projects can be completed digitally or as a physical product. I also have students present at least one of their project choices to the class. This is a wonderful way to hold students accountable for completing a well-done project, exposes the rest of the class to some great information, and allows students to show off their creativity and hard work.

Hare are some pics of different BINGO Cards I have assigned to my students as well as a few completed projects:

Quotes and Explanation
Digital Timeline

Digital Memory Game

Head on over to my TpT store for a FREE BINGO card template that you can customize to suit the needs of your class! Enjoy your after testing time and please share some of your students’ amazing BINGO card projects!

Until next time,

Monday, March 28, 2016

3 Tips for a Fun Last Quarter of School

Hi all,

Marypat from Just Add Students here.  

Like Caitlin, I taught in a private school, so statewide tests weren't an issue; however, I think squirrely middle school students are universal! And the last quarter of the school year is always a challenge.

Here are three ways to smooth out your last quarter of school and actually have fun!

1.  Tap into the passion.  You know how each class has something they are passionate about?  One year, my students loved to play "Cherry Pie" (8th graders!  no kidding!).  Another year, I had students who wanted to have an art activity attached to every writing assignment.  Then, there was the year my students loved to put together news shows (we all knew these middle schoolers were an interesting group!).  

By this time in the school year, you know your class (sometimes too well!), and you know what projects they've enjoyed.  Create a meaningful small group project that will showcase what they love. 

Drama day was a huge hit with my students.  One year students were tasked with creating a dramatic performance of "The Jabberwocky."  We had everything from a musical rendition to a puppet show!

Don't forget to give them the opportunity to share their project with the rest of the school and parents.

2.  It's all fun and games...  A quick game can get students out of their chairs for a few minutes and recharged for whatever task is at hand.  Even my eighth graders loved a goofy games like "Four Corners" or charades (have charade cards that you've created of characters from books and stories you've read this year).  

One year I implemented Fun & Games Friday during the last quarter.  Students who had completed their work could participate in the game on Friday. This built in a reward for those who weren't motivated by grades (and by April, that was just about everyone!).  

You can choose a different game each week (Bingo, Scattergories, Scrabble), or hold a tournament.  I chose the game since I wanted it to be somewhat educational!

A favorite was an annual Scrabble tournament the last few days of school.  This became an 8th grade tradition -- even former students would come back to help at the end of the year! 

To get students ready for the tournament, we played quick games on Fridays; this way students could learn the rules and strategies before the tournament.  Students played with a partner and only two teams were at each board.  That way the game moved quickly.  Using a timer, an official dictionary, and  the real rules are also critical!

No matter what game you choose, a successful game day means you'll need to be organized and have enough of the same game for everyone to play.  Bored kids can ruin the experience!

The key to playing games is to stop while the students are still having fun!  You want this to be a reward they look forward to.

3.  Sample size. I always loved to try something new the last quarter of the school year.  It was a great way to test something out to see if I wanted to add it the next year.  If  I'd heard or read about something and wondered if it would work in my classroom, I tried it in the last part of the school year.  

Introduce your students to something fun and creative like Storybird or have them create podcasts of themselves reading books for younger students. Just make sure you don't try out too many new things at a time since that can confuse your students.

By stirring up what is happening in your classroom at the end of the year, you'll keep your students guessing and interested...and it will be fun for you as well!

Happiness always,

Friday, March 25, 2016

Evidence Tracker for Reading Comprehension & Argumentative Writing

Hi Everyone!

Caitlin here from EB Academic Camps and The Styled Teacher where I blog about teacher fashion. I won't take up too much of your time today because I'm sure you're either thoroughly enjoying your Spring Break, or you're thisssss close to freedom for a week or so :)

I have to be honest. I never had to do test prep in my classroom. There were never any state tests.* No tests that dictated the future of my students. My future. My school's future.

I had none of it. And it was awesome. 

So, with that being said, today I simply want to share a really awesome resource with you that will be a HUGE help for your students in your classroom.

One of my biggest areas of focus when I was teaching was in evidence-based, argumentative writing. To help students keep track of evidence while reading a chapter, studying a poem, or throughout the course of an entire novel, I had them keep track of evidence that would later help to support their claim or thesis for the essential question. (If you want to learn more about creating your own essential questions and how to do it, ----> click here.)

And this resource helped us do just that! 

How to teach students to use the text to provide evidence to support their claims. A great argumentative writing idea!

We also recently created this resource in a DIGITAL version, so you can use it over and over again in your paperless classroom!

Please let me know if you use it in your classroom and if your students find it helpful!

Thanks again for stopping by for all things Middle School :)

*I taught at a private school and apparently we just kind of do whatever we want ;) In all seriousness though, we did have yearly and quarterly tests our students took as benchmarks to help us direct our instruction, but nothing that weighed as heavily on our shoulders as I see currently for all of my public school teacher friends :/

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Tackle the Test, and the Text, with Authors' Craft: Looking Beyond the PIE

Ok, so let’s face it, pie is good. Sweet, delicious, cover-me-in-ice-cream pie, is really good. Unfortunately, over the past couple of years, I have found one pie that isn’t so good: the ‘pie’ representing author’s purpose. Beyond persuading, informing, and entertaining, an author writes with deeper meaning and we need our students to understand this.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great place to start. When I taught elementary I used P.I.E. to teach author’s purpose all the time. I wanted my students to identify if an author was writing to persuade, inform, or entertain. We need to acknowledge, however, as students grow as readers, they need to start looking beyond the surface of the text. There is a reason an author writes a certain way and there are clues in the text to help us understand why. We have to help our students unwrap the author’s purpose by examining the author’s craft.

At the beginning of every year, I review specific skills such as theme, point of view, and characterization. My students are able to pinpoint these skills within a text. As the year progresses, I push them to dive deeper into the text. Why is the author using a specific point of view? How does this point of view affect the plot? How did the author use characterization to build the main character? How do you know? In order to truly understand a text, a good reader needs read for deeper meaning by examining the author’s craft. We can no longer ask our students to simply ‘identify’ story elements. We can no longer have our students ‘identify’ the theme of a passage. We can no longer settle with being able to identify P.I.E. We need our readers to dig deeper. What is the text saying? What is the author doing? How do you know? What do you take away from this?

To help me do this regularly, I created generic task cards focused on author’s craft. I can pull from these whenever we read any type of text in order to encourage my students to read for deeper meaning. This doesn’t have to be difficult.

I tell my kiddos, authors are sneaky. They have the ability to make you love or hate a character. They have the ability to create a setting that makes you relate to a story. The author can take you worlds away or make you examine where you are standing. While I encourage and support reading for pleasure in my class (a lot actually), I want my students to have the ability to dissect difficult texts.  Authors speak a secret language within a text and as middle school readers it remains our job to crack the code. Authors truly write beyond the ‘P.I.E.’ 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Creativity in Action: Test Prep without the Boredom

It's me, Michele from A Lesson Plan for Teachers, and I'm here to make a few suggestions that are near and dear to my heart for test prep season! 

In my classroom, creativity has always been welcome, encouraged, and appreciated.  Based on the research I studied on gender gaps in the classroom back in the 90s, all students and especially females retain content more successfully when given the opportunity to process that content creatively.  So why, when it comes time to prep for the inevitable testing window, do teachers often step back from allowing creative expression and resort to lecture or paper-based reviews?  Don't do it!

So, here are a few suggestions to make your classroom more creative while still tackling the testing prep that is mandated in our classrooms now!
  1. Assign students topics from your course.  Allow them to choose a method of presentation, whether it be written, drawn, sculpted, or performed.  Hold a Class Presentation Show to cover all of the topics without the boredom!
  2. Create an Illustrated Timeline Wall covering all of the content you need to review.  Let your students shine with their individual talents, with some organizing the dates, others writing the concise descriptions, some illustrating the main points, and others adding creative elements to draw attention to significant themes.
  3. Graffiti a Wall with illustrations and bubble letters on all the key topics covered in class.  Have students discuss the topics as they create the wall, reviewing the key points.
  4. Turn your classrooms into a Living Museum with students dressed in characters from your content (Historic figures, book characters, important scientists or mathematicians).  Hold a meet and greet for interaction and discussion of themes or significant events.
  5. Step back in time or into a book where students Build the Scene and models of significant role-players to recreate the past or the story.  Wrap-up with topic reviews or a graphically organized overview.
  6. Play Games! Charades, Pictionary, and student created games can allow students to review the content while creating the game and while playing!
And there are so many other options that get students up out of their desks and active in their learning and review.  What ideas do you have for making your test prep fun, engaging, and CREATIVE?

Happy Review!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Assessing with Technology

Hey all! Stephanie from The Marvelous Middle here. Today I want to talk to you about painless and quick ways you can assess in your classroom using technology. My school is a 1:1 school but you don't have to be in order to use these assessments. They are all online and can be easily shared on the teacher's computer linked to a projection screen or Promethean Board / Smartboard. I'm really excited to share what I do in my classroom so let's get started.

This quote guides my classroom activities.
If you are anything like me, I am always looking for new and interesting ways to assess my students in real time, whether I am wanting to get a quick status of the class or looking to do a review type of game. The following websites are ones that I have personally used in my classroom as formative assessments and are my "go-to" choices. It's always good to shake things up often with middle schoolers so they keep having many choices in your toolbox is key.

Kahoot is a free learning space where educational content can be delivered by asking questions in real-time. It's a social, game-like environment where teachers involve students by questioning, discussing, and surveying. Kahoot's motto is "Great learning starts by asking questions."

Example from my Etymology Challenge Kahoot
Currently, there are three types of Kahoot.

  1. Quiz: This is the most commonly used in my classroom. With this type, a teacher can create a series of multiple-choice questions. Each question can have an associated picture or video with it. There is a time-limit (that the teacher sets) for each question. Players answer questions that are displayed at the front of the room on their personal device (laptop, phone, tablet, etc.). Students are motivated to answer correctly and score the most points.. The faster a students answers the question correctly, the more points they get. The top 5 highest point scorers are displayed on a leaderboard between each question. The ultimate winner is shown at the end. It's a great way to engage and focus a whole group of students. Quizzes can be used to formatively assess each student in your classroom. Each game's data is saved and can be downloaded into a spreadsheet in order to track progress over time.
  2. Discussion: This type is designed to facilitate a conversation among students. They are simply one quick question with no right or wrong answer. This question can also have a picture or video associated with it. I typically use a short video that requires my class to give an opinion or come to a conclusion about the subject of the video. Players answer the question using their personal device and the collective results of the question are displayed in the front of the room. These results can be used as a launching pad into a class discussion. I often use this as a bell-ringer or an introduction to a new unit. It's quick and sets up a great class discussion.
  3. Survey: This type is just like a traditional survey, except questions are asked in real-time. There are no right or wrong answers and there is no limit to the number of questions that can be included on the survey. Again, students answer using their personal device. At the end of each question, results are shown, which allows for debating and discussion at that time. I have used this as an anticipation guide in my classroom. You could also use as a way to pace your discussion because of pre-set questions or to make sure the necessary questions are asked while allowing for robust classroom discussions. As with the quiz, results can be downloaded at the end of the survey.

This is very similar to Kahoot. The only difference is it is self-paced, not teacher-paced. This puts the responsibility on the student to guide instruction. I would recommend Quizzizz if you have students who can work independently and have good self-pacing skills. The other main difference is the question and the answer options show up on student devices. Again, this allows for student pacing. I have used this in my classroom as review homework and as centers.

This is very similar to Kahoot and Quizzizz, but with much greater functionality. Quizzes can be student-paced or teacher paced. But the features that make Socrative so useful, in my opinion, is the question types and the exit slip option. Questions can be not only multiple choice, but also true/false and short answer. I use short answer questions the most, especially when used as exit slips. There is an actual template already in place for you to use as an exit slip. This alone makes this my choice most days in my classroom. and unlike the other two, there is an actual app for Socrative, which I find useful for students who have difficulty getting a URL typed in correctly.
If you are looking for something completely different than the above choices or you have a classroom where devices are hard to come by, Plickers is the solution. Plickers is a classroom polling system that displays results in real-time. The only difference is that students hold up a card that shows the chosen answer. 
My students using Plicker
The teacher then scans the room with an Apple or Android phone or tablet. As you scan, the space above the card shows the student's name in either red or green. Green = correct answer and red = incorrect answer. The results also appear on the screen at the front of the room. Pluckers also created an app that was released in January 2016. I have yet to try it yet. 

On my blog, The Marvelous Middle, I have gone into further detail about setting up and using Plickers. You can find that post here. I have just started using Plickers but so far, it's going to be added to my assessment toolbox . The kids loved it and found it easy to use. 

I just participated in a PD session that showed it being used in a classroom. It appeared to be another quick way to poll your students. The one thing I noticed was it didn't require students to use their names so all answers were anonymous. I could see this be helpful as a way to gauge your entire class' level of understanding.I have not used in my classroom yet, but I will post a review on The Marvelous Middle once I do.

Whew! Thanks for letting me share what I use in my toolbox for quick, tech-based formative assessments. I hope your students enjoy them as much as my students do!

Until next time...

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Secret to Top Scores on State Tests!

I recently read an article where David Coleman, the President of the College Board and architect of the Common Core, stated that in order for students to do well on standardized tests, they must fully understand and be able to use the academic vocabulary being used.

That doesn't seem like very much of a secret until you consider this:

Academic vocabulary is comprised of the words that are most often used in informational texts (such as textbooks) and literary texts (such as novels), but not likely used in everyday speech.

This means our students need to know words like integral, function, parallels and convey, perspective, and affect (which is different from effect.)

Of course, these words are not presented in the big tests in isolation.  They are embedded in sentences and students will have to use their context clues.  Again, sounds simple enough, but it's more than that.  They will be required to focus not just on the word itself or the clues, but how the word is being used in relation to the clues in the sentence.

To me, this means these words have to be explicitly taught and constantly used in class to get the job done.

So what did I do?  I went through the sample state test for my state (Florida) and pulled out the academic vocabulary.

First, I will have to familiarize my students with the words.  I will start by doing a concept sort and asking pairs or small groups to sort them into fiction and non-fiction.  Naturally we'll discuss the categories chosen based on the definitions.  Then we can put the words on the Word Wall with the proper definitions.

Then, I will make it a game to use the words in class as part of any discussion.  The students that uses the word correctly earns a reward as part of our "Super Improver" system.  

Soon after we will play "vocabulary relay" where all the words and the definitions are scattered on the ground at one end of a field and the students are lined up at the other.  The objective:  Race to the words and definitions, grab a matching pair, and take it back to the team.  The next team member then rushes off to do the same.  The team with the most matching pairs wins! 

Lastly, I will be placing the words and their definitions onto so students can practice with the words digitally with fun games and even quizzes.  We will also use other apps like Kahoot and Plickers where context clues will be necessary yet fun!

Get a FREE copy of Academic Vocabulary ELA Test Prep for a limited time!

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Mandy from Caffeine and Lesson Plans here, sharing some ideas for test prep that won’t make your student’s eyes glaze over!

It’s that time of year again… test prep! Let’s be serious, though- it’s tough to get the kids motivated to review for the BIG TEST. The benefits of doing well and consequences of doing poorly are so abstract to them. I used to spend a lot of time reminding my kiddos about how important the skill that I was teaching was. “This will be on the test” or “come on- pay attention, this will definitely be on the test!” were pretty common parts of my vocabulary. If we get real, though, that just doesn’t work. It isn’t motivational, interesting, or fun. So, after some serious reflection, I decided to have some fun with it and drop the standardized test format.

Tip #1 - Make it a Game!
Anything is more fun if you make it a game, isn’t it? That’s totally my trick for motivating myself to clean the house. How fast can I vacuum? Can I fit all the bathtub toys into one container? It might be silly, but it keeps me on task. The same is true of my kiddos! With a little bit of extra time, anything can be turned into a game. Want to practice computation, facts, or vocabulary? Try playing I have, who has. Something a little more in depth? Make a Jeopardy game and play it in teams. Throw together (or search the internet for) a blank game board that you can paste questions to. The possibilities are endless!

Tip #2 – Incorporate Movement
There is nothing more draining than sitting still all day. I hate it! I can’t imagine my students enjoy it very much, either. If you are hesitant to incorporate kinesthetic activities into your classroom, start by having students rotate around stations through your room in timed increments. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, cut up a set of task cards and tape them up around the room to set up a “scavenger hunt.” Train your kids to record the answers on the line that corresponds to the number on the task card, though- learn from my first timer mistake!

Tip# 3 – Find the “Cool Factor”
If I’ve learned anything during my years in the classroom, it is that kids really buy into the “cool factor.” If something is different and exciting, they are sold. So, make your test prep “cool.” Load the questions into Quizlet and let the kids answer them on iPads or in the computer lab. Use Plickers to record responses. Let the kids write on desks or binders with dry erase markers. Let kids “be the teacher” and help other kids with concepts they understand well. Let them earn a small prize at the end of an activity if they do a good job. Even stickers do the trick! The possibilities are endless.

So, there it is. Testing will always be difficult on kids, but we can certainly make the prep easier for them! What do you do for test prep?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Motivational Notes During Testing

March is a pretty tough month for us as teachers. And you can bet it's a tough month to get through for students as well, especially if it's testing season! 

Interestingly enough, this past weekend, we were spending our Sunday working at a local Coffee Bean with Aris from Sailing into Second, and we both started talking about testing season and the "UGH's" that go with it. She actually shared this really cute idea with us, so we wanted to share it with all of you, too!

The week before testing, Aris sent home 5 different colored pieces of cardstock to each of her students' parents. Along with the cardstock, she also wrote them a note asking if they could do the following:

- Write something funny, inspiring, motivational, or loving on each piece of cardstock. It could be a quote, a phrase, or just a simple note. 
- On Friday before testing, return them to the teacher. 

Simple, right?

Well, during the week of testing, each day, Aris was able to give every student in her class a special, handwritten note from their parents (thankfully, all of her parents wrote their cards! Otherwise, as the teacher, you could write them for your students as well.).

What a great way to motivate your students and make them feel good before taking a test!

Additionally, she also passed out these darling Motivational Testing Notes (along with a piece of candy) on each day of testing.

Super cute and pretty easy if you ask us! What are some of the ways that you help prepare your students for testing? Share with us over on our Facebook page!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Middle School E/LA Test Prep

This is Lyndsey from Lit with Lyns!  I'm super excited to be sharing what I do with my students to prepare for the dreaded end of year testing.  Since I teach English/Language Arts, there is SOOOO much to cover in one year!

First off, I use these Common Core Task Cards to teach students vocabulary they may come across, in order to enhance their understanding of terms.  I also use videos when teaching the vocab words, as this is a great way to introduce them, while also keeping the students engaged.  You can find a freebie sample of these here!

I also feel that it's important for students to be able to determine the correct type of text structure, which can often be challenging to do.  Because of this, I try to begin teaching students this towards the beginning of the year.  I see such an improvement in reading comprehension and students' ability to learn more specific content information once they grasp this material.

Point of view is another important component that help students comprehend what they're reading more easily. Understanding the point of view from which the story is being told allows them to have a better idea of the characters in the story, and also enables students to think more in depth about how the characters change throughout the story.  Students who have a strong understanding of the literary vocabulary, text structure, and point of view typically do better at comprehending the material they read.  This is why I created this bundle- E/LA End of Year Test Prep!  This product includes:  20 Point of View Task Cards, 13 Text Structure Task Cards, and 36 Common Core Vocab Task Cards. For a FREEBIE sample of this, please click here!
I'd love to hear how you prepare your students for testing.  What has worked in your classes?  Let us know in the comments below!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Building Leadership Skills in the Middle School Classroom

Hi everyone, Shyra here from Junior High Core Values.  One of my passions is encouraging student leadership in middle school students. They are right at that age where they want responsibility and want to have some input in their lives. Providing ample opportunity for positive leadership is important to keep students motivated and engaged.  There are many benefits to encouraging student voice in the classroom. Throughout the years, I've found that the more invested the students are, not only is academic achievement increased, but there are fewer behavior problems. 

There are four key leadership qualities that I like to help my students, and our student council, develop. At the beginning of the school year, we learn about each quality. Throughout the year, students look for opportunities to demonstrate their leadership ability and continue working on these skills.

Class Meetings/Class Council  In my classroom, we use a class economy. Each of the sixth graders has a job for which they receive a salary, pay rent, can earn bonuses, and pay fines (for talking, being out of uniform, missing assignments, etc) Every week we have a Town Hall meeting where the class mayor leads our citizens in a discussion about topics related to school. It is AMAZING to watch them discuss the things they think are important and make decisions.

Student Advocacy  My 8th grade social studies students are learning how to advocate for issues they think would make school a better place. When we studied the Constitution, each of them wrote a bill about an issue they would like addressed. We then debated each bill, sent some back for revision, debated some more and voted.  The students needed to consider what would have the best impact on school, any costs to their projects, how the project would be received by administration, and what the parish/broader community would think. Our winning bill, a proposal to finish a mural on the side of the school building, has now gone on to our principal and school board.

I encourage you to always provide student choice and solicit student input in order to build positive leadership qualities in your own students.