The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

Teacher Innovation is Still Alive and Kicking!

on September 28, 2015

I’m pleased to be able to start off this week with a post that was drawn to my attention by a faithful reader, Nancy Belkov.  Nancy began her teaching career in the school where I was principal in Madison Wisconsin and now lives in the Boston area and creates a math book series titled, “Use Your Math Power.”  Nancy found this story on the blog “Mathminds” by Kristen Gray.  I think that the teacher innovation described below is worth emulating in other middle or high schools, not only in the cafeteria at lunch time, but also when students enter a classroom before the lesson begins.

It is amazing to me what a well oiled machine our cafeteria is each day! Amidst the near 800 students walking in and out, the volume of students all talking over one another, the perfectly timed staggered schedules, the forgotten utensils, and spilled food and drinks, the students still get in and out of there within 30 minutes each and every day without fail. The wonderful people working those lunches are absolutely amazing!

As I walk around the cafeteria, or even stand outside in the hallway, I hear all of the different types of conversations…some are about their lunches, or about their classes that morning, or possibly even about their classmates. However, at a glance around the cafeteria, there are other students who are not talking at all and some tables are even eating in silence. While I appreciate students who may want to eat in silence, I wonder if there are others who need a topic in which to engage in conversation.

When my colleague Erin suggested putting up some type of slide presentation on the projector screen on the stage during lunch, I thought it was a genius idea! She said it could be like the previews in a movie theater that everyone watches before the feature presentation. Like most ideas with me, we jumped right in. We came up with prompts for students to use as a piece of their conversations and spark interesting conversations around the cafeteria. We put 15 ideas together in a looping ppt, with a 30 second transition between slides.

It was so fun to walk around and see students pointing at the screen and offering what they thought the answer would be and explaining why! What a way of creating a student culture that demonstrates how differently and creatively we can all think about the same thing.

Like any idea, there are always ways to improve and this idea is no different! We have brainstormed ways to include pics of the students, our Peacemaker awards (shout outs for students and/or teachers who are caught doing great things ), pics/fun facts about the teachers, and ways for all of the students to contribute ideas/prompts for the presentation. My colleague Melissa came up with the adorable name of “Chat-n-Chew” which is so much better than “lunch presentation” and offered to have a group of her students design future presentations and of course, they are the “Chat-n-Chew Crew.” Each homeroom teacher will have suggestion forms for their students to send to Melissa’s  class to use in their presentation creation.

One day, I will get Erin on here to blog (I hope she is reading this) because she has so many wonderful ideas to share!

One response to “Teacher Innovation is Still Alive and Kicking!

  1. Frankey says:

    Wonderful idea!


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