Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I CANNOT. I CAN!

My principal at my home school is big on students knowing what they are supposed to be learning. She will stop in any classroom, any time during the day and ask students "What are you learning?" She doesn't expect a huge answer, even one word is fine, as long as they have an answer and not an "I don't know". If they don't have an answer then something went wrong in translation or you didn't make that learning goal obvious enough. Which makes 100% sense! I think a lot of times, especially as a new teacher, I get carried away with projects and process and forget the "WHY are we doing this" part of projects. (This was actually a huge point in a lot of NAEA sessions I attended at the national conference!) So here is my history with "I CAN" statements a new-ish, easy to understand,  and easy way for students to see and know what their objectives are....

Round One: My long term substitute job was very free for me to do what I wanted. When I shadowed the teacher I would be subbing for she told me the district used these I CANs as part of a district initiative and she had this awesome wall in her room where she could post the statements. She told me I didn't have to do it, but I could if I wanted. She also said it was hard to keep up with so she eventually just hung the project examples there instead. I tried my hand at writing them and kept up with them for most of the year. But, I found myself writing too many for one project or too general and eventually I began just hanging the projects again like she had. Below is a picture of the wall from my time there...awesome space for this but just couldn't get it!


Round Two: With my first projects in Steven's Point I gave it a try again. This time not writing them for Kindergarten and First to try to work on writing stronger ones for the older grades. I typed them in a word document for each project and tried doing them in a sequential way that lined up with the steps of the projects. I would print them out and carry them around to my buildings on my clip board and put them up on the visualizer for students at the beginning of class. This while a good idea at first, turned out to be a disaster! These simple "I Can" statements turned in to over a page long with the main goals being lost and students just saw it as too much to read and did not take advantage of all the "answers" and steps being in front of them. Not to mention, with back to back classes, I would forget to put them up or when transitions didn't go smoothy from the last class I would be frazzled trying to put them up in time. So while it seemed like a good idea.... It did not last! Here is a screenshot of a set of these babies from earlier in the year.

The Knock Out Round: A few months ago I got a brand spanking new (kinda, it was going unused in the gym) white board at my home school. Making it one at each building rather than chalk (which is my worst enemy)! So I wanted a way to take advantage of having this beautiful thang and be able to utilize it every day. In came my I CANs again... I was finally beginning to understand what I CANs should be used for and the simplicity of them. Short, sweet, and to the point! I asked myself what am I trying to get them to do or understand and what vocabulary can I put into these statements. And bingo bango something clicked! ONE SENTENCE. And my reminders for the project that day, steps, or process information would just follow up below the statement.  While I know I have not perfected I CANs yet, I finally feel on the right track and best thing is.... I squeeze all my morning classes up before school with a little space from drawing and then squeeze in all my afternoon classes during lunch. AND I snap a picture of any new ones I write so I have them already written for the next day of classes and just copy them back up! There have only been a few days where I forgot or ran out of time to write them up, but I am trying. I was even so proud that I had my principal come down to admire these babies. (I need a lot a reassurance that I'm not totally screwing everything up!) Here are a few shots of my board...



I would love feedback on how you use I CAN statements or post objectives and how you think I am doing with this!

P.S. I used to be seriously paranoid about how my handwriting looked up on the board. This has long since passed after writing all of this EVERY DAY. Thank God!

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