A puzzle for my math teaching this year was how to make our learning goals transparent and how to organize class work so that it could be easily coalated into a portfolio at the end of the year. Then I learned about a resource called Betterlesson.com. They hire master teachers to submit lessons in a variety of topics. I liked one teacher’s work in particular, especially the way her lessons featured student notes.
I appreciated the way she focused on her learning goals, both questions and mandated standards. The “I will be able to” statements allowed students to understand what they were responsible for learning. The “Do Now” offered a way to kick off activities or to do mini-assessments. The notes can contain information, activities, links, or resources. It is easy to attach class or homework to them.
I adapted this model for my own class and felt much more organized this year. It was easy to integrate essential questions into our every day lessons. It is also a useful system for differentiation as each student can get an individualized set of activities attached to the notes. Students continued to need reminders to keep up with the notes and to use the notes to study for tests, but the system was in place for them to do so. It was also useful during conversations with parents, as my expectations were clearly articulated in the student materials. Here are some samples: