I have the honor of working for ten hours this summer with a colleague, Jack Czajkowski, an 8th grade science teacher at Greenfield Commonwealth Virtual School. It’s an open-ended work assignment and we have been free-range on topics and discussions and working on what catches our eye, but we did work through a full draft of a template for vocabulary for Jack to implement (and revise!) this fall.
Our school uses curriculum from Florida Virtual School, including an online textbook. Although the textbook has some features that I find engaging as an adult, it is dense and I have observed that my students often don’t unpack the text well and rarely use the text features that make it a meaningful resource. In particular, Jack and I have talked a lot about “guided notes,” which are provided by FLVS as an empty grid to complete. Students seem to find the overall experience daunting and struggle to submit the notes, let alone understand and use the textbook as a useful tool.
Jack did a lot of work last year trying out different iterations of the classic Frayer Model. When we started chatting about it for this professional development discussion, we thought we might try building a Frayer Model….in a Jamboard. We found a Frayer model that Jack liked for the background and then Jack word-smithed the language in each quadrant until he found the words he really wanted for each one:
As always, it took more time to build this first template than it will to use it regularly, but, if it turns out to be the words that work for Jack, he’ll be able to use this format repeatedly for each unit.
From here, Jack can make a copy, put in the vocabulary terms for each unit, then make three more copies for each of his classes, and share the Jamboard with his students to work on together in class.
One of Jack’s wishes for this professional development time was to find productive and meaningful ways to help students prevent what he referred to as “the momentum of zero,” where students begin the year with a zero or two….and continue to fail from there. Perhaps, starting the year with some of these Frayer Models, completed collaboratively in a small group or in a teacher-led group, will help students to shift the narrative to one of success.