By Karla Hilliard
In this past week's AP Lit chat on Twitter, we discussed our proverbial bag of teaching tricks, appropriately dubbed "Tricks of the Trade." It was a rich discussion with many, many reliable and exciting strategies. We chatted about our best tricks for creating opportunities for movement in our classrooms, helping students approach a difficult text, tricks for maintaining our own sanity, and our reactions to this strategy by the amazing Sarah Brown Wessling.
What emerged in our chat were strategies to truly engage students, to hook them in simple, easy-to-implement ways. I believe when teachers are equipped with reliable protocols that actively involve students in their own learning, everybody wins.
Here are three of my favorite no-fail teaching tricks:
Students who remain seated are required to remain silent, but I encourage them to watch as the discussion unfolds and plan a response. I also encourage these more reluctant students to star an idea they think is important or to identify the patterns they see.
This activity is perfect as an anticipatory set or even a bellringer. It's also dead easy and requires almost no prep work. Now, that's a magic trick!
After groups have made it through most or all of the charts, I tack on three more steps: first gallery walk (another great trick!) and star the most interesting comment or insight on each chart, then return to their original passage and evaluate the annotations. and finally share out with the class what their discovered through their annotations.
What I love about this approach is that not only do diverse and interesting ideas emerge., all students' voices are heard.
Plus, you get to walk around, chat with students about their findings, and largely stay out of their hair. I call that a win!
This activity is tried and true and is on my class's top requested list. I first learned this strategy through the AVID program, which I taught a class of in another district. The long and short of it is this:
I also provide the following rules:
- Only one person speaks at a time.
- Talk to one another and not to me and use one another's first names.
- Participate in the discussion at least one time and actively listen.
This activity is such a solid way of incorporating movement and speaking and listening. Healthy conversations emerge and students generally enjoy themselves. And that's a class I want to be in!
So, WVCTE is wondering...what's in your teacher bag of tricks? Leave us a comment, Tweet us your thoughts @WVCTE, or connect with us on Facebook!
Karla Hilliard teaches STEM Academy English and AP Literature and Composition at Spring Mills High School in Martinsburg, WV. She has been a classroom teacher for 11 years. When she isn't teaching, you can find Karla hanging with family, cooking up a good meal, reading up on educational trends, crocheting soft things, or eating spoonfuls of peanut butter.
Karla serves as Executive Vice President and Head of of Secondary Affairs for WVCTE. See what's happening in her classroom at www.hilliardsclass.com or connect with her on Twitter @karlahilliard.