Discover 9 New Teaching Moves for Student Success !

New Teaching Moves for Student Success

We have approximately two and a half months remaining in the academic year, and I deemed it opportune to “appraise” the progress thus far.

There have been around nine novel endeavors I’ve undertaken, all of which have proven efficacious. Despite having encountered numerous pedagogical endeavors over the years that yielded unfavorable results (many of which I have recounted in blog entries here), it appears that my twenty-two years of teaching experience have finally borne fruit, as I have refrained from embarking on any novel initiatives that have devolved into chaos over the past eight months. However, it must be acknowledged that the academic year has yet to draw to a close.

A forthcoming post will delineate the fresh strategies I aspire to implement in the ensuing academic year, but that discussion is reserved for another occasion.

Herein lies my compilation of commendable pedagogical maneuvers, presented without hierarchical arrangement:

Providing a bowl of fruit for students each day was a home run

The initiative of providing a bowl of fresh fruit for students each day has proven to be highly successful, an idea I gleaned from my esteemed colleague, Lara Hoekstra. Four days per week, I present twenty pieces of fruit to my classes (reserving “Fruitless Fridays” due to budget constraints). This endeavor has garnered significant enthusiasm, with students eagerly arriving to class to partake. Despite the provision of free breakfast, lunch, and an after-school snack by the school, teenagers, known for their voracious appetites, often require additional sustenance to facilitate optimal learning conditions. By addressing this need, I not only foster a positive rapport with my students but also contribute to their overall well-being.
Moreover, to my surprise, students themselves contribute to the communal bounty, adding unwanted food items such as fruit cups, oranges, apples, and chips to the basket. Each day witnesses the addition of seven to eight extra pieces of food, further emphasizing the success and communal spirit of this endeavor. While the demand for fruit exceeds my current supply, practical limitations prevent me from increasing the quantity further.

Organizing one of my two rooms into “pods” for my two-period ELL Newcomers class with student baskets containing materials, and leaving it set up permanently

Subsequently, I conduct my IB Theory of Knowledge classes in another classroom. It is astonishing that I hadn’t conceived of this arrangement earlier! Desks are strategically positioned to accommodate peer tutors within each group, eliminating the need to allocate time daily for the distribution of student folders.

Completely organized my two period ELL Newcomers class to take advantage of peer tutors

I have enlisted peer tutors for several years, but it was only this year that I fully embraced their utilization, particularly within the context of our new pod seating arrangement. It has become evident to me that peer tutors can significantly enhance the learning experience, provided that the teacher designs the entire lesson structure around their involvement. I have elucidated the structure of my typical two-period class in “Here’s What My Two-Period ELL Newcomers Class Looks Like This Year,” and I anticipate sharing an updated rendition soon.

Substantially refined my approach towards teaching sentence structure to ELLs

Once weekly, students engage in decoding exercises featuring four pages of “Sentence Navigators,” consisting of sentences aligned with the thematic focus of the week (such as emotions, home life, occupations, etc.). “Sentence Navigators” represent a captivating puzzle format pioneered by former ELL educator Jason Renshaw. Additionally, students are tasked with crafting their own Sentence Navigators for their peers to decipher.
Furthermore, in a creative deviation from the conventional “expanding sentence” technique, students are presented with a series of expanded scrambled sentences which they must unscramble.

Further refined and expanded our peer mentor program

For numerous years, I’ve facilitated weekly “walk-and-talk” sessions for my TOK students, extending the same opportunity to ninth-graders and ELL students. Typically, this activity has been met with success. However, this week marked a significant expansion as we doubled the cohort size by pairing mentees from two distinct classes. Rather than meeting with the same mentee four times a month, they now convene only twice. Moreover, I have introduced a new element wherein I personally accompany mentors to their mentee classes, ensuring a seamless and expeditious pick-up process.

Made more advanced ELL students “assistant peer tutors.”

As is customary in ELL classrooms, we often experience a flux of new students throughout the academic year. Recognizing the importance of maintaining effective peer tutoring despite these fluctuations, I have implemented a strategy to bolster our support system. In addition to our existing peer tutors, I extend invitations to more advanced ELL students to serve as “assistant peer tutors.” This initiative not only allows for more manageable group sizes but also ensures continuity in group dynamics even in the absence of primary tutors.
Given the ongoing progression of students into the Intermediate class as they demonstrate readiness, many have the chance to assume this role, which is generally met with a sense of honor and responsibility among the student body.

Enforced a strict no cellphone use

As is customary in ELL classrooms, we often experience a flux of new students throughout the academic year. Recognizing the importance of maintaining effective peer tutoring despite these fluctuations, I have implemented a strategy to bolster our support system. In addition to our existing peer tutors, I extend invitations to more advanced ELL students to serve as “assistant peer tutors.” This initiative not only allows for more manageable group sizes but also ensures continuity in group dynamics even in the absence of primary tutors.
Given the ongoing progression of students into the Intermediate class as they demonstrate readiness, many have the chance to assume this role, which is generally met with a sense of honor and responsibility among the student body.

Created criteria that had to be met for TOK students to be able to work outside or in my second room

In my TOK classes, collaborative group work is a cornerstone of our learning approach, with students often given the freedom to choose between indoor or outdoor settings, including my secondary classroom. From the outset, a fundamental rule has been established: no cellphone usage during class time. Fortunately, students have generally adhered to this rule, particularly given the assurance I provided to the administration regarding their commitment to it, which enabled them to work outdoors. Understandably, no one desires to jeopardize this privilege for the entire class.
Some students have affectionately dubbed me “Ninja Teacher,” a moniker stemming from past instances of swiftly resolving conflicts. Leveraging this reputation, I conduct discreet spot-checks to ensure compliance with the cellphone policy. Students are well aware that failure to uphold this rule jeopardizes their access to these preferred work areas.
However, in recent times, a few students utilizing these spaces have demonstrated inconsistent work habits, occasionally failing to complete assignments or produce work of satisfactory quality.
Together with my class, we collaboratively established criteria that students must meet to be eligible to work in these designated areas:
  • No missing assignments: Students must ensure that all assignments are completed and submitted.
  • Consistent achievement: Students should have attained an A grade in their last three assignments.
  • Minimal cellphone reminders: Students should not have been reminded to put away their phones more than once in the preceding days
  • Alternative option: If students do not meet the first two criteria, they may still access the designated areas for the day under the condition that they commit to completing missing assignments or enhancing the quality of their work.
Thus far, this system has proven to be effective in regulating student behavior and maintaining productivity within the designated areas.

Had my ELL students do practice tests mid-week

For several years, I’ve incorporated low-stakes tests into our Friday routine. However, this year, I’ve introduced a new element by assigning peer tutors the task of administering simple practice tests to students within their respective groups. These practice tests serve as an integral component of our broader retrieval practice strategies implemented throughout the week. The benefits derived from these exercises have been manifold, contributing significantly to student learning and comprehension. Thus far, the results have been promising, and I remain cautiously optimistic about their continued efficacy.

Regularly incorporate “review weeks” in my ELL Newcomers class

This practice might seem obvious to many ELL teachers, but in the past, I neglected to allocate sufficient time for reviewing thematic units once they were initially covered. Amidst the multitude of topics to cover, this aspect often took a backseat. However, I’ve since come to recognize the importance of periodic review and have implemented a system wherein the final week of each month is dedicated to revisiting the material covered in the preceding three weeks. Although the content is familiar, I employ varied instructional approaches to reinforce understanding. This approach has proven to be highly effective in consolidating learning and reinforcing key concepts.

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