“Writing Student-Focused Questions” / Michal Danin-Kreiselman, Ph.D. In the following table I address concerns about the use of warm ups / journals in the science classroom. Most of these concerns were expressed by science educators on the NSTA listservers in a questionnaire I distributed in September. I added a few more of my own. But in no way is the discussion on journal management concluded. Concern The warm-ups take too much time to grade. Response * I don’t grade the journals every day. Only once in every 2-3 weeks, when I collect their notebooks. You can also have them write in a separate section of a binder, and collect that once every few weeks as a packet. * I have a very simple rubric for journals: 20 point – Answers are in complete, independent sentences. Drawing is included (if necessary); Correctness – sometimes. * I give only multiples of 5 (0, 5, 10, 15, 20) The warm-ups take too much time out of the lesson How do I get them to start right away? * The journal IS an integral part of the class. Therefore, the journal does not take any time from the class. I get really poor writing quality * Writing quality is an issue, and my solution so far is through accountability, in the grading * Another thing I sometimes do is exchange notebooks, so they can read each other’s journals and comment on the writing quality, as well as on the content. * I sometimes offer extra points to students that allow their answers to be displayed under the document camera, as models for writing quality. Respectfully, the class comments on the writing (or drawing). How do I get them to work independently, with minimal guidance from me (ZPD) * Here is where the question writing skills comes in. Over the years of your built up experience, you learn what students can do without much help. For every new question you write, it is a hit or miss. But after a while it gets easier to predict. * Sometimes you can find yourself improving the question while the students are responding to it. Which is why period 1 serves as ‘guinea pigs’, and at the end of the day, the question is just right. How can Tardy or Absent students catch * I allow absent students to copy journals that they missed form their peers. Since I check the journals only once every 2-3 weeks, * Journal question is typically displayed on the powerpoint even before students enter the room, and before the bell had rung. After a while, students are accustomed to look for the journal before they sit down. * The rest is general classroom management procedures. “Writing Student-Focused Questions” / Michal Danin-Kreiselman, Ph.D. up (without extra work from me)? they don’[t even have to tell me that they copied the questions. If they ask me for permission, I say “Yes – but please try to answer the question on your own.” * Tardy students are a problem for anything you do. And my only solution is consequences. But this is no more problematic to Journals than to any other part of the lesson. * Specifically for long-term absentees, such as severe illness or for a long travel, since all of the journals are lined up in your powerpoints, you can upload or email the powerpoints and let them find out what they missed. * On a side note, I love adding the date of the lesson in the slide before the warm up – mostly for my convenience and reflection. But indirectly it can help students to find what they had missed that day. How do I close the discussion on the question(s)? * That really depends on the questions, in terms of technique and purpose. In my experience, the most common way I conclude the journal is t=with the notes of the lesson. Because the notes are the correct answer to the last question of the journal. Same thing with lab procedures.Tjsi way I also make sure that after the discussion students wrote the correct answer, and will not remain with their mistakes. What if a question is not working well? * A question that is not working for me is a question that they students couldn’t answer at all on their own. (if they answered independently but incorrectly, it is a winner still!). It is important to walk the room and see if this is the case, so you won’t wait too long for nothing. If so – either you can improve the questions ‘on the spot’, or you can say to the students – I’m sorry, but it looks like you need me to give you the answer. And I will – so, please write: “…….”. No Harm done! * On a side comment, journals can also be reflective on why things are not going well! If it helps calm down frustrations. * It happens to me too. So I ask them to write down the questions, but right away, I tell them that the question will be addressed after we complete this or that. Meantime I get their awareness of the following step (in the journal), so the flow is not broken. What if the question is good, but they need another step from the previous lesson to be able to answer it? How can this work in a block schedule? Only one warm up for the entire long period? * When the period is very long, as in a block schedule, or in summer school, I simply have multiple journals in one lesson. Even in a 52 minute period there could be more than one journal. But in a long period it makes it transparent to students that you are now starting another step in your instruction, if you open it with a journal.