March 2018 Reflection

Improve Note-Taking

I have wanted to improve on how we do notetaking in science. The students currently use fill in the blank method, which I have found to require little engagement on the students’ part.

I wanted to incorporate a Da Vinci like method to note-taking. (Gelb, 1998)

I started by researching different types of note-taking and formats for each.  I settled on the Cornell method of note-taking. I made the Cornell method my own with a few variations on the form.

First, I put the keywords or terms in the left column for the students. Second, on the top section of the notes I placed an area for topic or topics to be covered, and a place to write the essential question for this set of notes. Third, I gave them a place to draw and take notes. Fourth, I added a summary section to the bottom of the notes. In summary, the students had to answer the essential question for the day. I set a timer for the last five minutes of class to give the students a chance to reflect and then share with their counterparts. Finally, on the back, I added starter mind map.  I instructed the students that the center bubble was for the main topic of the notes. The students were instructed to fill out the mind map using text, pictures, and color to compete for the set of notes.

The new set of notes had three rules:

  1. They had to fill out topic, essential question, and summary.
  2. They had to summarize each definition in their own words
  3. They had to have a drawing or doodle for each definition or topic.

I made coloring optional, but much to my surprise most of the students did color!  The examples below are from a student who struggles with science vocabulary, but her notes are fantastic. Another observation from this new form of note taking is that students have taken to the drawing aspect of it.  I’ve had to teach them how to summarize their notes and not write every word. The students are getting better at it. Class average from the first quiz taken using the new note-taking method is as follows:  2nd period 80 percent, 3rd period 85 percent, 4th period 95 percent and 8th period 93 percent.  We have a quiz next week, so I am going to keep data and compare.

Meet and Greet

Meet and greet at the door (Erwin, 2004). I have always been a very active teacher in the hallway, just ask my students.  I yell down the hall, well maybe not yell.  How about project my voice down the hall, saying things such as, how’s it going? Are those new shoes? Or, I am telling them some funny story about life.  However, I never do this by my door.  I am usually standing with a group of teachers monitoring the intersection of two hallways. So, I moved.

I focused on students that do not usually say hi or good morning to me.  It’s never too late to start building that relationship with those students, according to Jensen (2009).

Card to Connect

 Our administration passed out a packet of 3 x 5 cards with the names of all the seventh-grade students on them.  They asked each teacher to select the cards of students they felt they had a strong connection or relationship. Teachers were asked to write a few things about the student on the back of the card.  Students that did not have a connection with an adult in the building were given back to the staff for us to work on to develop a relationship with those students.

Supporting our Value of Support

One of our critical values for the learning community is being supportive. The community definition of being supportive is the ability to give support and receive guidance and resources with trust in a professional manner. Like all things in a new community, it takes time to develop the trust in order give feedback to someone. However, this barrier is slowly being broken down by using the following:

The Google community has been beneficial to all of us. In the Google community, we post our questions, ideas, and concerns that we have for the class. We have broken down the post into the following group:  discussion, citation, questions, classroom, books, articles, and websites. Each of us has added something to this community and comment on it. We’ve helped each other register for classes, find content and answer questions about the course. Taylor has done a magnificent job of taking notes for the whole group in an outline format that she puts up on the community page.

The feedback that I get from this group and for my job-a-like group has been very beneficial.

Another way we support each other is following group members on Twitter.

Finally, peer review of our reflections in class was beneficial because we each were able to read each other’s reflections and gain insight on things we might like to add to ours.  The feedback on what other’s thought I did well and what I could have improved was reassuring.  The discussion on how each of us tackles the reflection was the most helpful. According to Smith (1998), “You learn from the company you keep” (p. 9).  I like the company of my community groups.

The Brain Lady

To say I had a personal interest in this topic is an understatement.  It was so fascinating that I ordered all the “brain books” for the learning community.  Jordon and I discussed the issue of Me Moves all the way home, and we talked what we see in Jalen and wonder what else he might be able to do!  Jalen and I have done several Me Move activities, and it has been fascinating to see what he can and cannot do.  My goal is to read all the book suggested on the list about the brain and go from there.

Professional Development Goals

My four professional development plan goals are as follows:

  • First, we will evaluate the effectiveness of individual lessons and units by discussing the results of quizzes and tests.
  • Second, we will develop students’ engagement for each lesson by using academic games to increase student engagement and cooperation.  We will use the following website to promote this goal. Quizlet Live, Kahoot and Quizizz.
  • Third, we will use physical movement and art to engage students.
  • Finally, we will provide clear learning goals and scales for students using standards

I have meet all of my goal to date, however, I have focused mostly on the physical movement aspect of my professional development. The book Classroom of Choice (Erwin, 2004) is always on my desked and has been used in conjunction with Making Learning Visible by (Ritchhart, Church, & Morrison, 2011).  I use these two books as a blue print when starting a new section in class.


Brooks, J. G., & Brooks, M. G. (2001). In Search of Understanding. The Case for Constructivist Classrooms. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Erwin, J. C. (2004). The Classroom of Choice: Giving Students What They Need and Getting What You Want. (J. Houtz, Ed.) Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Gelb, M. J. (1998). How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day. New York, NY: Bantam Dell.

Jensen, E. (2009). Teaching with Poverty in MInd. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Littky, D., & Grabelle, S. (2004). The Big Picture: Education Is Everyone’s Business. (J. Houtz, Ed.) Alexandria, VA, USA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Ritchhart, R., Church, M., & Morrison, K. (2011). Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Smith, F. (1998). The Book of Learning and Forgetting. New York, New York: Teacher College Press.