May 18, 2011

ROLE strategies: throw away the worksheets

Like most veteran teachers, for many years I had dusty worksheets and daily routines that made me comfortable, while boring my students into submission or, worse, into disruption. Routines and worksheets make a teacher’s life easy. Sure, you still have to deal with classroom management, parents, administrators and the myriad of unexpected stresses that may arise on any given day. The academic piece becomes easy, though, when the canned units and activities are in place.

New strategies
Reading all year
The shift to a ROLETM is not an easy one. What you’ll love about this system, though, is how these strategies will simplify many of the other difficulties that you may fear if you eliminate useless worksheets, homework and testing. Best of all, you can apply these ROLE strategiesTM to any subject or grade. During the next few posts, I'll outline these progressive methods.

Strategy 1: Incorporate and “coach up” the year-long project. Although I’m suggesting the elimination of the dull routine that we are taught to use back in our pre-service days, which I used to be a huge proponent of, the year-long project maintains a sense of structure and routine that will make the classroom run smoothly. The project can be anything; it just needs to be subject-related and something that can incorporate mini-lessons throughout the year.

Incorporate daily work from the project
The project should include something that students can work on every day. Of course, a year-long project must incorporate the autonomy that is critical to a results-only classroom.

What makes the year-long project so successful is that it is fundamental to the results-only philosophy that the teacher works all year to cultivate. If the project is discussed and celebrated constantly, and if there is enough freedom of choice in it to create a legitimate sense of ownership in each student, it will become an integral part of a project-based class, and your students will come to believe in it.

Say goodbye to bell work
If your day currently begins with bell work (a tedious practice), you can now replace it with the year-long project. Remember, in coaching intrinsic motivation and the results-only philosophy, you will teach your students to value production. As the school year moves forward, students will hunger for time to work on their projects.

Stay tuned for more strategies in our next posts.