I have enough content in my head to talk about this project for hours.

Read the whole thing, and you’ll be rewarded with a ton of shared docs at the end (feel free to skip the reading and go straight there).

1. Pre-Game

As I posted a month ago, my students have been working on a half-hour lesson to be “Teacher 4 a Day”. The big state test is next week, and instead of blowing through 60+ sample test questions, I opted for depth of learning this year instead of breadth.

In past years, the “review everything” approach only served to remind the kids how much they’ve forgotten and overwhelm them.

Many students came in before school, after school, and during lunch to get advice, build presentations, and prepare worksheets. The filled in lesson plans, timing maps, and goal sheets, they prepared quizzes, and they got really nervous (some of them).

Do I have to dress up? What if I don’t have a dress? Can I wear a burka? Oh, God!

2. Presentations

You know what’s great? Hype.

A great way to build hype? Costumes.

If students are the teachers in Mr. Vaudrey’s class, so then Mr. Vaudrey would be the…

“Bro, can I have summa those Hot Chee-Tos?”

I dressed like a middle school student and sat in the back of the class while the “teachers” led the lesson.

“My dad bought the new Call of Duty yesterday.”

The assistant principal (with whom I checked for Dress Code Violations each day) advised that I model perfect student behavior, even though I dressed like many of the kids that spend time in her office.

“Marco! … Hey! … Marco! … Text me!”

With my iPad and a seat in the back row, I opened up the grading Form I built earlier and behaved like a polite student.

Each group started by reading this:

Predictably, some groups attempted to do the minimum. Two boys on the first day half-heartedly wrote a sample problem in the corner of the whiteboard, talked about it, then assigned practice problems for the students. The “lesson” itself was no more interactive than a Khan Academy video, and they completely omitted the quiz. The group before them was no better.

I made a point to regroup and discuss, and after that period, I “put them on blast“.

Vaudrey: What are some good things you saw today and some things you would change?
Hillary: Having a PowerPoint helped a lot.
Fiona: Yeah, it kept the class focused.
Ariel: When the class is doing something, they aren’t as noisy.
Vaudrey: Yep. What are some things you would change?
Vaudrey: You don’t wanna put anybody on blast?
Class: Nope.
Vaudrey: Okay, then I will. I’m not impressed so far. [gasps] Natalie and Amayrany, you guys clearly prepared and worked hard ahead of time. Nice work, well done. You other guys, however, could have done much better. You had three days in class and two weeks of Spring Break, and the best you could do was example problems on the whiteboard? You all have iPads, and I saw none of them today. Step it up.

I put on my best "Mitt Romney when asked about taxes" face.

I put on my best “Mitt Romney when asked about taxes” face.

Parents and teachers reading this will note that verbalizing one’s disappointment is one way to galvanize students to action. When I said iPads, two students in the back fist-bumped. My emphasis on hard work may have been a bit overzealous; one student wouldn’t get her Powerpoint to open and wept in frustration. She got an extra day.

3. The “Best Of”

This student had a sound cue to play a “quiz song”. Clearly, my own musical cues have made an impact.

Friendly color scheme. Can’t go wrong.

This group did research and found the SWBAT acronym, AND they read it out loud: “Students will be able to…” I was impressed.

Occasional groups had hidden mistakes within their lesson. Some rolled with it better than others. It took about 4 minutes for this group to notice the problem was “unfactorable”.

iPad students figured out how Google Image Search works.

This was the solo project of one student whose partner did nothing. Despite the poor grammar, she absolutely nailed it, and I called her house to rave about it. I’m so proud, especially because she and I had lots of discipline issues earlier in the year.

Other highlights from the presentations:

“Mr. Vaudrey, I don’t see how you like this [teaching].”
“I noticed how Abby was strict and the class got quiet. The other two were giggling and the class was loud.”
“Since the discriminant is negative there is no solution… well, no real solution.”
“Oh, so they can talk during the quiz, but when I talk, I get in trouble?”
“Raise your hand and wait until I call on you! Don’t shout at me! I can give you a marker if you raise your hand!”
“You kids wanna try me today, huh?”
“You sassin’ the teacher?”
“You are not the brightest apple in the bunch.”
“If you’re talking during my quiz, that’s a zero. Yeah. I’m lookin’ straight at you.”
“No talking during the quiz.” “I wasn’t talking, I was singing.”
“If I see you talking, that’s a F!”

“My word is law! No bathroom breaks!”

Obviously, some students hammed it up with a captive audience, and several became drunk with power quickly. One “teacher” even called the principal to deal with an unruly student, which later spawned a great class discussion about a teacher managing his/her own discipline in-house.

I was giddy the entire week, sitting in the back row in Converse hi-tops watching the slow dawning of enlightenment on each student. Most of them said, at some point, “Mr. Vaudrey, this is hard.”

“That’s right.” I replied. “And how long did you plan for your 30-minute lesson? I teach 90 minutes every day, several times.”

“Oh, man!” Their eyes widened, “I don’t think I could do that.”

I’m sending these kiddos to high school in 34 school days, and they will have a new respect for their teachers.

4. Teacher Materials & Execution

Click here for the folder on my Google Drive with everything in it. They’re named below, instead of linked.

If you use it, please let me know. I’m curious if my effort to share this will be worth it.

Here’s the order:

First, distribute a list of the learning goals for the year. (This list was already changing a week after its inception. Modify it to fit your class.) Most students picked easy stuff from the single digits, or stuff from Quadratics (the most recent unit we covered).
Next year: do this project before EVERY test. For the year-end lessons, force a spread of learning goals.

Next, I passed out the project description with the rubric. Students filled in how they would deliver the “Direct Instruction”, what the “Guided Practice” would be, and which “Exit Quiz” questions they would use. The following day, I passed out the lesson plan form. The Timing Breakdown came the following week.
Next year: model the timing in columns during one of my lessons. “What am I doing right now? What are you doing right now?

Once all students had settled into planning their lessons, I built the Presentation Schedule so each student knew which day they were presenting (though one still managed to arrive to class with nothing done, lamenting “I’m goin’ today?!“). The Tutoring Sign-up was posted on my door.
Next year: During in-class work, visit groups as they work and go through their lesson with them.

The day after they presented, each group completed a Peer Grading form to assess somebody else’s lesson. The Grading Schedule details which day they grade. The iPad students completed the form online, linked from my skeleton Google Site (which I am still too ashamed to link). Also on that dreadful site is the Teacher Grading form that I used to grade each group.

Next week, all students will head to a computer class and complete the Partner Analysis form to discretely and secretly grade their partner. I predict some scathing reviews from fourth period.

Finally, I’m still developing an algorithm to grade each project as accurately as possible. I’m certain that it’s not worth the effort I’m spending, but it’s fun and I like doing it, so get off my back.

Even today, I’ve been editing rubrics and spreadsheets and forms. We never arrive.

Let me know what you think of all this. I worked very hard on this project, and it improved with every minute of student presentation. I’ll post an update once I’ve arrived on a grading setup.

If you use something, let me know, eh?