Getting a round of applause at the end of a lesson is definitely a nice little pick-me-up for a teacher. I was fortunate to receive one these after having unveiled one of my favorite magical teaching tools from the ever giving tickle trunk called the world wide web.
Prelude to the Applause
When my dear friend Natalie Robichaud introduced me to postcrossing.com, I doubt she realized the impact it would have on my teaching. (Aside – although this is a pretty magical tool, it did not bring the applause.) Each semester I guide my participants through the registration process, the Postcrossing concept (I encourage you to check out this unique project), and finally I even send the postcards they wrote in class.
I’ve received positive feedback on this project from past participants. Some have tried it with their students and have had inspiring results. They love the fact that this gives their students an authentic reason to write, and in turn, they report that students are more motivated to write because of the project.
In previous semesters, my participants and I have only spent 50 minutes going through all the steps mentioned above, and most of the time was wasted getting through the registration process. This year I took a new approach and spent two class hours. This gave me the time to help the teachers understand the project more thoroughly, and it also gave them more time to understand how to write a postcard. Plus, they had the chance to reflect on how they would modify this activity when they go back to school. The participants were excited about this project but not enough to cheer.
Since it’s the end of the semester, I really want my participants to understand the different principles and methods of assessing student writing. One of the basic assessment tools are rubrics. To my surprise, many of my participants had never heard of a rubric. Some have used them in the past, but they have been very basic, providing little guidance.
This is why I knew I had to show them the magical rubric generator called RubiStar. I’m not sure how I found out about this site, but it has truly changed my teaching life. It’s now a pleasure to create a rubric.
So after our reflection session on the postcard project, I asked my participants to create a rubric that would help them evaluate their students’ postcards. Together we went through the process: click on create a rubric; click on Letter-writing (the closest rubric generator to a postcard); choose 5 categories; save; and print.
Cue the applause.
They just couldn’t believe that someone had created a site that provides teachers with such valuable material for free! A few teachers sighed with joy, exclaiming that in the past they tried to create their own rubrics, but felt so frustrated at the process. Feeling exasperated at not knowing how to create a valuable rubric, they didn’t trust the ones they made. Now I was showing them a site where all this was available at the click of the mouse, and printed within 5 minutes!
The Tickle Trunk
I can’t take credit for this applause. I was simply Mr. Dressup pulling out one of the magical tools I’ve found in my favorite tickle trunk. Of course I feel satisfied knowing that my discovery has brought others joy, and I’ll take that feeling any day. But in the end, all this magic comes from my adventures on the internet. I find a lot of magic here. And when I do come across one of these teacher-saving-tools, I always ask myself, what did teachers do before the internet?