Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Designing Instructions & Foldables
A lot of people have asked how I come up with foldables or where I find them so I'd like to explain my thought process. I gave examples yesterday of how much better I think my notes are now and I think the act of creating the foldables is what has helped me.
When giving notes I used to fall victim to having kids just write and write. I would just keep going with a topic and throw it all onto the same page because I thought all the info belonged together. When making a foldable for a topic I start by thinking about how many chunks of information feel natural and then I choose a foldable with that many parts. By doing this, it stops me from rambling and helps me get to the point. Even the act of having to think about how many parts there are helps me to focus on what's really important. I aim to give students enough information so that the idea is complete, but not so much as to get distracting.
Take integers rules for example. They naturally break into four parts so I just chose a four part foldable and split the information up accordingly.
Order of operations also has four logical chunks, but is more sequential so I chose a four part foldable that accomplished that.
I never pick a foldable because I think it's cool and then try to find information to go in it. I always pick the foldable that makes sense for the information. Sometimes a topic don't lend well to a foldable so I just wouldn't use a foldable in a situation like that. I'm not using them for the novelty or fun of it, I'm using them when they help to enhance the content.
Here are two pages where I opted out of using a foldable and instead chose to just write down the steps on the process of what we were doing. I could have put the different steps into a foldable but I didn't think it really added anything to help understand the idea better so I skipped it.
A major change is also which students I design instruction for. When I used to give notes I think that I was designing instruction for my model students. Ideally, if the kids pay attention then things should go well. And for the motivated kids, it does work. They pay attention for the whole period and take all the notes and write neatly and all that good stuff. I could feel like I did a good job because I gave good notes and if a kid didn't get it then it was their own fault. I feel bad even admitting that I used to be this way, but it's only in hindsight that I realize what was going on.
Instead, I now try to design instruction for that unmotivated student. I've come to understand that student much better and I continue to try to figure them out. If I can come up with something to engage them and get them involved, then I really know that I have been successful. My top kids will most likely succeed either way because they are self-motivated. The other kids are the challenge and it is my job to reach them. If I ignore them and just put the blame on them so that I don't feel bad, then I am not doing my job. They need and deserve a good teacher just as much, if not more, than the top kids.
So what this means in terms of choosing foldables is that I try to make as much as the lesson interactive as possible. I can't talk for 40 minutes because I'll lose them. So when I'm splitting up information I try to break it into smaller parts and try to come up with tasks I can have the student do. This may mean a discovery type activity, but sometimes it's just as simple as having them cut and paste the examples themselves.
On the outside of the flaps I gave them the definition and I could have just as easily given them the pictures too. The examples were something though that I thought they could do. So instead of just copying down the picture from the board and not thinking about it, I had them cut out each graph and decide where it belonged. It was just a quick little thing, but it broke up my "lecture" and got them active.
This is something I aim for with foldables. I don't want to give a foldable where it's just me talking for 40 minutes telling them what to write. This certainly might happen every now and then, but I don't want it to be the norm. Instead I try to come up with parts of the foldables that I can give them and part that they can do themselves.
In my integer foldable, I give them the rule and then they create their own example problems. It's another thing that just breaks up the period so that kids can't just zone out.