One of my New Year's resolutions was to improve my teaching. Even though I have been teaching 16 years, I am always looking to improve upon what I've done in the past. Friends of mine have said, "after all these years, you should just be able to teach auto-pilot" or similar statements. I have re-used projects or even some lessons but I every weekend, without fail, I sit down and plan for the week. I want to stay current, fresh, relevant and I don't want to be bored.
Something new that I've tried this year was a QR Code Scavenger Hunt. I don't remember to whom I owe the credit for this. I think that it was the result of networking on Twitter or from someone's blog. I wish I could thank the person who created it because my students are having such a great time with it! Basically, what I have done was to create an initial QR code which has clues to where they can find the other QR codes throughout the school. The clues are all in the target language. In teams, the students run (some, literally) through the school to find the other codes. Each code they scan has information they must find or a task like taking a selfie of the whole group with a certain administrator or food. I have used the QR Reader app on my phone to create the codes as well as ClassTools.net's QR Code Treasure Hunt. Here are some pics from a recent scavenger hunt. You can even scan my code to see what I used!
I am so grateful to my students from a few years ago who set me up on Twitter. Before Twitter, I would do what I was used to doing in order to prepare for my classes--scour the internet for research, articles and ideas. That was time consuming (even if it was worth it). Enter my period 5 class insisting that I make a Twitter account. I've been hooked ever since. Now, I follow some great educators and take part in some awesome chats like #reflectiveteacher and #langchat. It has never been easier to network ideas (if there is a better way- let me know!)
I'm excited to start using some of the new ideas that have been shared. I'm looking forward to implementing some tools like ClassTools.net's Random Name Picker and using Twitter to have students chat. My love of music helped me to learn language more than many other activities and I try to bring music into my classroom any chance I get. I have done the standard cloze-type activities where student fill in missing words they hear. I have analyzed songs with students, translated parts of a song or had students make music videos. I even use music videos as #twextracredit. (#twextracredit is my way of giving my students extra credit through Twitter.) This year, I have tried to be more creative having students go on a scavenger hunt within a song. I give them lyrics to a song, play the song continuously and ask them to find certain items like verbs, tenses, synonyms/antonyms, certain vocabulary terms and so on. Basically whatever I can pull out that ranges in difficulty level. I have had students work together and separately and usually reward the first to find all items. It's a fun way to have students look closer at language, hear authentic language and for me to share my favorite artists with them. I use songs in my Kahoots that usually give a clue if they're paying attention closely. I'm always looking for ideas and would like to thank @SraSpanglish for her blog posts, especially the one on Pop Song Practice. Nice to have some new fresh ideas.
One idea I'm especially excited about didn't require me to go far or even sign in to Twitter. An advantage of being married to another teacher is that you get to bounce ideas off one another all the time. My wife is an elementary school special ed teacher and recently we were talking about ideas to improve our teaching and she was saying that she wanted to give her students the opportunity to teach their classmates about things they enjoyed. What an awesome idea! Even though my students might be a bit beyond show-and-tell, the idea is great. I'm hoping to implement a version of this where my students will submit to me a topic they would like to teach the class about- sports, music, dance, whatever- and will prepare a mini lesson in the target language. I will work with them separately (in and out of the class) to prepare and each student will have their time at least once during the year.
Another idea I'd like to "steal" is that my wife's students have written their own "books" and she keeps them in her library. When students have free reading time, they love to read their classmates' books. How cool is this! Now my wheels are turning...
I'm already feeling motivated to get going on improving my teaching. That's one resolution being worked on and this post is another-dedicate more time to my blog. Feeling accomplished!