“Me Gusta la Historia:” Building Classroom Culture through History Fair

This fall I became a certified Teacher Evaluator. Yay. The process was ridiculous but helped me reflect on my own practices. One of my takeaways was, while I was working incredibly hard, I was the one doing all the work. Level 4 classroom work isn’t about the teacher; reflection helped me realize I wasn’t showing, then supporting student-driven activity. Sure, there were great moments. But systematically I was doing all the work. The last month of History Fair has provided a nice opportunity to really develop that aspect of my classroom, specifically Doman 2 (classroom environment).

First is the “expert board.” This is a work in progress, but at its core is student-driven problem-solving. Students can offer help, find help themselves, and do something while waiting for me.

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Surveys are also instrumental in providing specific feedback. How often are we helping each other?

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The “sticker board” has also been a nice way to recognize each other, take ownership over your work, and find a classmate who needs support.

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The next phase is getting students to actually praise each other. Middle school students don’t often do this, so we’re working hard to find reasons to seek out classmates to let them know we admire their work. The “Celebrations” board accomplishes the same goal.

celebrating-each-other

As a result, we’re visiting more museums, I have more engaged students, and students are moving more efficiently through research. And kids actually like working hard because their research has value and meaning. Suffering Module 2 is a fair price to pay for more deeply engaged and enthusiastic students!