Extreme Makeovers

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new gr with car

Marvel Comics is redesigning Ghost Rider for an upcoming series, which you can read about here (courtesy of http://www.newsarama.com).

Personally, I think the new digs look like the Japanese manga/anime series Bleach more than any American comic book hero/anti-hero.   See the resemblance?

Bleach_125 Raw 051    GR_FinalBustShot_TraddMoore

I see that both Bleach’s “Soul Reaper” and the Ghost Rider’s “Spirit of Vengeance” may need some ointment.  Or maybe some Maybelline.

This latest superhero redesign has inspired Newsarama writers to revisit their list of Top 10 Superhero Extreme Makeovers–The Good, the Bad, and the Super Ugly.

Superhero makeovers typically last less than a year before the hero/heroine returns to his/her iconic design.  Usually, the change coincides with a slight bump in sales and fan interest (or outrage) before things return to normal (i.e. Electro-Superman, Beard-n-Hook-Aquaman).

superman makeover                    aquaman makeover

Have you noticed any parallel with teaching yet?

Fads come and go, but quality teachers base their decisions on well-founded research and well-grounded application.

For those superheroes whose costume changes DO last for decades (and beyond), it’s typically because the original design was somehow incomplete or inconsistent with the true nature of the character (see Green Arrow, Daredevil).  Or maybe something didn’t click with the readers.  (When I see the original yellow/red DD, I don’t think hero.  I think hot dog.)

greenarrow makeover                      daredevil makeover

Unfortunately, some teachers are in dire need of an extreme makeover.  Perhaps they were insufficiently prepared, or they’ve developed some bad habits as the years go by.  Or maybe they just lost their passion.

How about you?

Do you need an extreme makeover?  (Move that bus!  Move that BUS!)

Not just change for change’s sake.  Don’t settle for a surface-level image update that will last  only a season.  Instead, challenge yourself to seriously reflect on your practice and its impact on students.  Search for any rough spots needing a revision.

The best teachers always GET BETTER.

And the best “change for the better” is the kind that remains for the years–and students–to come.

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Teaser Teachers

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One of my Super Bowl highlights is the glut of new movie trailers during the commercials.  Never mind that the 20 seconds or so may or may not actually wind up in the actual film.

Nowadays, most of these trailers go straight to the internet before the Super Bowl.  And now we don’t just have trailers, but also teasers, which are basically trailers for the trailers.

Here are a couple of teasers and/or trailers that caught my eye this year.  (Don’t blink.)

Cool, huh?  Even a few seconds can get the adrenaline pumping.

So how about us teachers?  How can we take some Hollywood magic and use it to “tease” our students?

A common practice is the use of bell work (or bell ringer), which helps with classroom management and should engage students in thinking.  Many teachers use bell work to review something from a past lesson or preview something  for the immediate next lesson.

Bell work helps create a useful routine in which students start the class (not the bell or the teacher) and the teacher can use these few minutes for taking attendance, addressing specific students’ needs, or other important tasks.

There are several resources out there for using “puzzlers” or trivia for bell work.  These are good in a pinch, and some can even foster meaningful discussions about students’ personal views and experiences.  Here is a variety of bell ringers from Kentucky (home state of mutant siblings Sam Guthrie a.k.a. Cannonball and Paige Guthrie a.k.a. Husk).

cannonball_and_husk_color_by_graconius-d5p11rs

Thanks, Kentucky and Graconius.  We owe ya both.

This is a start, and such resources are good for some days.  But let’s go beyond student/time management and really get students excited (or at least interested).

What sort of question or prompt can you pose on a given day that will not only get the students to work, but get them to think more deeply about the content you want them to learn?  How can you “tease” them?

Here are a few paired examples.  One bland, one better.  Reflect on these ideas to create or modify your own bell work prompts for upcoming classes.

BLAND: Please open your book to page 16.

BETTER: Please open your book to page 16.  Examine the two photos and write down as many similarities you can find.

BLAND: Please get out yesterday’s homework.

BETTER: Please review your homework with a neighbor and discuss any discrepancies in your answers.  Who is correct?  How do you know?

BLAND: Please copy the vocabulary words on the board.

BETTER: Pick out your favorite vocabulary word and draw a picture related to that term.  Share your sketch with a partner and see if they can guess the word.

See?  Not that hard to take a basic task and make it better (i.e. increase the students’ interest).

In addition to bell work at the start of class, teachers should tease their students at the end of class.

End-of-class activities often focus on a “wrap-up” or recap in which the class reviews what they learned that day.  If you do such activities, be sure to have the students tell YOU what they’ve learned, instead of you just telling them what they should have learned.

Strategies such as the Exit Slip or Ticket-out-the-Door provide other opportunities for students to share what they have (or have not) learned.  Teachers can prompt students to apply the content to a new situation.

Don’t make it a simple task.  Tease the students with a challenge or question that gets them wondering and thinking between the end of class and the next time they return to you.  It’s okay to leave students in suspense sometimes!

So here’s a challenge:

What’s your best “end of day” or “start of day” strategy?  Post a comment and share below!