On Monday, I’ll no longer be a Grade 6 teacher. Due to the large numbers at our school, we’re fortunate to be getting additional staff members and smaller class sizes. I will now have a straight Grade 5 class. As a teacher that loves teaching splits, I’m definitely sad to be losing my Grade 6’s and my 5/6 class, but I’m excited for another adventure. I’ve made many changes in my teaching career — from grade changes to school changes — and each one has been wonderful. I’m optimistic that this one will be too!
It’s actually due to this change that I’m contemplating another change. I have a very consistent homework routine (and I know that many people reading this post feel different ways about homework, but this post is not really about that), and one of my regular homework activities is Multiple Choice Mondays. Honestly, my teaching partner, Gina Bucciacchio, and I started Multiple Choice Mondays last year as preparation for EQAO. And yes, I know that many people reading this post feel different ways about preparing students for standardized tests, but this post isn’t really about that either.
Now though, I’m not teaching Grade 6 anymore, and I need to decide if I’m going to keep Multiple Choice Mondays or change it. I vacillated on this decision until one of the meetings that I attended today. We had our first Directions Team Meeting, and while we’re still deciding on our school focus, one of the discussions that we had was on “student choice, student voice, and differentiated instruction.” I’m very passionate about these three things. Just the other day, I met with a colleague after school, and we were talking about some Language activities. I explained that the reason that I’m so against blackline masters and textbooks for everyone is that all students end up doing the same things, and do they really need to all develop the same skill in the same way? I explained to this teacher that I try to always provide choice — and I do — but then I started thinking about Multiple Choice Mondays.
For this homework activity, all students are answering the same multiple choice questions in class. All students are completing the same assignment at home. There is only one right answer, and all students are getting marked in exactly the same way for this one right answer. I say that I’m against all of these things, and yet here I am, perpetuating a system that bothers me so much.
So today I’m going to make a change. Come Monday, we will not have Multiple Choice Mondays, but instead, Marvellous Media Mondays. Each week, students will examine various media texts. They might compare different types of texts. They might look at point of view in these texts. They might ask questions and “inquire” based on these texts. All students will be encouraged to explore their passions by exploring media texts that align with these passions. This activity will link to our TLCP. It will link to Learning Goals and Success Criteria, and it will include lots of reading, writing, listening, and thinking. It may even include The Arts, as I’m teaching Visual Arts now, and what a great opportunity for integration. This activity will also include student choice, student voice, and differentiation.
And yes, I can still work on multiple choice questions (in class, in small groups, and when opportunities arise), but if I’m looking at students first, I think that this is a change I need to make. What do you think?
Marvellous Media sounds like a very engaging assignment. Lots of thinking, lots of choice. Great stuff. I do think there is room for multiple choice practice in classroom. Test taking strategies are important along the way. I wonder if there are ways you can incorporate voice and choice into it? Even having students create MC questions is a good start to achieving both goals. I’m interested in how your students take to the new Monday.
Incidentally, we were apparently thinking alike tonight. I just posted on my blog about voice and choice too. Although you were better at coming up with a tangible action :-). You are always one step ahead!
Thanks for the comment, Kristi! I think that we really are on the same wave length tonight because I was actually thinking about a way that students could create multiple choice questions (maybe even based on their media texts). This is where I was initially going with Marvellous Media Mondays, but then I thought that this might be too difficult an assignment for home. This is something that I want to do with the use of modelling too. Gina and I actually did this a lot last year, and it worked really well. It was particularly good for math, so maybe this is the place to start. Hmmm … Now I have more to think about this weekend! 🙂
Off to your blog to read your post! I’m curious to see what you had to say!
I think change is good, it keeps things interesting for the kids and keeps them stimulated. Awesome, good luck with it!
Thanks for the comment! I absolutely agree about the benefit of change. Please let me know what you think of this change once we begin this new routine. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
That is awesome!!! I love how the positive focus from last week’s post has flowed nicely into a new positive direction! You rock!
Thanks Paul! I always appreciate your support! I’m very excited about this change, and I’m hoping that it will allow me to focus on some areas of weakness as outlined by last year’s EQAO results. I may not be teaching Grade 6 anymore, but I can still address student needs (and with the choice, voice, and differentiation that I think is so important)!
Love your positivity, and those 5‘s are so lucky. I’m a huge fan of looking at media, and how we interpret those differently depending on who we are, and what we bring to the table. (Are you going to look at the Chipotle “scarecrow” ad? It’s had me desperately wishing for my own class, so we could take it apart, and play the game, and look at what the message is…).
We have done some interesting work as a staff on writing better multilevel choice q’s. will try to track down a resource title for you. Having the kids write questions (and using a SMart response, or similar system to build them into a presentation), sounds like a great idea.
Lisa, thank you so much for the kind words and for sharing such great resources and ideas! I’m going to look at the scarecrow ad right now. I’d love if you have any multi-level question writing resources to share too. I’ll definitely use them!