So I have been reading many educational blogs as of late and I have been trying out some of the ideas in my own classroom.
In my religion class I allowed the students to grade themselves. I spoke with each student and I was able to gather a better understanding of some of the students in my class. It's sometimes hard to connect with Middle school students, but I found taking that time in my class to talk with each of them independently opened new doors of communication between us. It's working and I do believe that next I will be letting the students self-evaluate in a written form their mark in class. I want them to be honest with me and themselves, about what their level of effort and comprehension has been. There are still some hiccups but I think it's working out. I do not feel like I am an expert in assigning students a mark on their spiritual journey.
In my science class I have given my students a project to research a system of the body, they had to come up with 3 choices of systems they wanted to research and then I gave them one of their choices, it wasn't always their first choice, but it was at least one they chose on their own. They have been busy creating a presentation, notes and a small quiz for their classmates. They are truly enjoying class and I plan to do much the same for the next unit, I just have to figure out a great way to phrase the project for them. I have some ideas but we will see how it works out.
I am also using Edmodo for my Science class this term. The kids enjoy it and are using it, I would like them to use it more, but some are even using them at home which is a neat thing to see. I am enjoying edmodo because of the security it offers and this way if parents do not allow their children to have a Facebook account, for students to still be one a social network with only their friends and classmates from school. Students by into it because it looks like Facebook.
I am using Exit questions as well in my class and in these I work to ask higher level thinking questions and the students are doing really well. I don't know if they like them but they ask for them and I only ever have students that were absent on a certain day that do not complete them. I think the students engage in this activity and thoroughly learn something from it. Besides it's easier than asking, then explaining to them what it means to put a concept into their own words.