Story 8: Quail Lake Charter
Our second to the last story comes from Quail Lake Charter School. 7th Grade teacher, Rachel Groft shares her experiences with how choices and saying "YES!" leads to deeper conceptual knowledge and student innovation. Super inspiring and a great example of easy ways to embed UDL into lessons and experiences. Thanks Rachel! Enjoy everyone!
Learning to Say "Yes!"
By Rachel Groft, 7th Grade ELA & SS Teacher
Back when my oldest son was little, I remember hunting around for preschools, looking for the perfect school to foster his creativity and grow his little mind. In one class, I saw some simply adorable art projects hanging on the wall. You know the kind… the teacher provides a template, gives each student a few pre-cut shapes, maybe some popsicle sticks, and some paint, and has each student re-create the adorableness. Whola! A bunch of fun. And then there was an entirely different classroom. No piece of artwork looked the same. I remember watching as the little one with chubby cheeks and long ringlets asked her teacher for a piece of celery, wanting a snack perhaps? The teacher hunted through her fridge but could not find any celery. “I’m sorry, but would a carrot or piece of broccoli work?” The little one thought for a moment, and grinned. Off she went with such joy and eagerness... to paint her snowman. The broccoli made for a perfect paint brush when texturing snow, and the carrot, well, it did a fantastic job of painting curly hair on her one-of-a-kind snowman!
When was the last time you said “Yes!” to a student asking to do something a “different” way? An out-of-the-box way? A way you have never seen done before? A way that might, if you’re being honest, make you a little uncomfortable, take a little more time, or involve a supply you don’t have? My encouragement to you today is to push yourself toward “Yes!” If saying yes still allows a student to meet the assignment goal, go for it! It promotes an excitement and love of learning like no other word can. With most of my major class assignments, my rubrics offer two, three, or maybe four options for assignment completion... but they always offer, “If you have a different great idea, ask me. I bet I’ll say yes!”
At the start of the school year, and especially with students who do not like taking risks, most of my students will utilize a tool or resource that I suggest or that is specified on a rubric… a specific website, a certain app, a previously used graphic organizer. But as the year goes on, and I encourage, encourage, encourage students to come up with their own creative ideas, a couple students will slowly start to emerge from their turtle shells and ask to do extremely innovative and exciting things! And WOW how learning can explode! Other students inquisitively watch, and bravely begin to innovate and try their own ideas. A mock interview could turn into an actual interview with an immigrant from Egypt or a resident of Ethiopia. A three-flap foldable could turn into an interactive game on an app. A paper design for a water filtration system could turn into a 3D-printed filter. An individual project on a famous historical figure could turn into a group project on a set of historical figures and how their overlapping contributions affect our culture today. A 3-dimensional map could be created using anything from cotton swabs to legos to rotating trading ships built from clay and cardboard. The sky is the limit! Try saying “Yes!” in your classroom, as uncomfortable as it may be. Keep trying, even if it doesn’t go well, and you will certainly see some amazing things!
1/24/2018 09:11:25 am
Thank you for sharing! I loved reading about your class and the reminder to say yes. :)
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Sanger unified school district
Curriculum & Instruction department