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Writing Classroom Agreements using Inspiration & Word to Go

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Keywords: class agreements
Subject(s): Social Studies, Technology, Social Skills, English/Language Arts, Journalism, Civics
Grades 3 through 8
School: Gilham Elementary School, Eugene, OR
Planned By: Julia Siporin
Original Author: Julia Siporin, Eugene
Students will:
• brainstorm ideas about classroom behaviors that will help our class be a great place to learn using Inspiration software
• categorize the various ideas into meaningful groups
• listen / discuss / debate the merits of each idea belonging to one group or another.
• come to consensus with their classmates about the categories of behaviors that each class member will strive
to realize
• apply their knowledge of Word to Go to write a descriptive paragraph about one group of ideas
• present a draft of their paragraph to the group for revision or adoption
• analyze their own personal behaviors using the list of classroom agreements to see which behaviors they manage well, manage fairly well, and which behaviors are not effectively being managed.
• Develop a personal plan to address those behaviors they deem important to improve & type that up in a Word to Go document
• Review and Revise their Personal Behavior Goal Statement periodically - recolor code their original Inspiration map & then revise their Word to Go document
• Share their Personal Behavior Goal Statement with others who will support their efforts
• Show support for others who are working towards their personal goals


Week One:

Day One:
• Students will brainstorm a list of behaviors that they think will help make their classroom a great place to learn. A diagram will be created in Inspiration by the teacher using the large screen projector.

Day Two:
• Students get additional ideas from parents and family & share them the following day. Add the ideas to the class diagram.

• Pairing / grouping ideas: Ask students to look at the ideas & find 2 things that go together. Ask them to explain to the class why they belong together. Ask the class if anyone has a different opinion about the match or why they shouldn't go together. Come to consensus about the pairing. Set a unique color for that pair of ideas. Repeat this process for a few more items. Singleitems or other matched pairs can be added to make a larger set. You can continue doing this as a class as long as you have lots of participants actively involved. To increase the level of participation, stop when students get the idea, and beam the class map
to everyone's handheld using the designated "Beamers" in each group. They may then work as a small group to finish grouping all of the ideas. The final task for this part is for the team to come up with a name for each group of ideas.

• The Beamer for each group beams the teacher their group's organized map (they'll need to add a group name after the file title)

Day Three and Four (and maybe Five):
• The teacher brings the files into a desktop computer to be projected onto the large screen for the class to view

• Show each group's map to the class for review and discussion. The Reporter for the group explains to the class how & why they grouped the ideas the way they did. The class may offer suggestions / edits which the makers of the map can agree to or not. The teacher should make any agreed upon changes. Depending on how many groups you have to move through, and depending upon their level of participation and willingness to stay focused, this may take a few days to complete.

• Print the maps and post them in the room for students to view for a few days.

Week Two:
Day Six:
• After some debate, students will need to choose one map they think is organized the best.

• Each group chooses (or will be assigned) a group of ideas and together they will type up a statement which includes all of the ideas in a clear, positively stated paragraph. You might have each group's paragraph start out with the same line: "In this class we ......". If the group thing isn't working well, then have each member of the group type up their own paragraph & share it with their group at the end of the period. Then choose someone's paragraph or parts of several paragraphs to make a final coherent paragraph.

Day Seven:
• Optional Step if beaming is working for you: The Beamers should get together & beam their group's final paragraphs to the other Beamers for their groups to review. Like a mini-jig-saw. The Beamers go back to their own group and read all the different paragraphs from the other groups. Amongst themselves, they discuss and prepare any thoughtful suggestions & edits.

Day Eight:
• Each Reporter will read their group's paragraph to the class.

• The class will revise & edit each of the paragraphs.

• The class decides on a title for that paragraph

• The Reporter for each group beams the final draft of their paragraph with names of the group's authors to the teacher.

• During a prep time, the teacher will put all the paragraphs into one document to share with the class

Day Nine:
• The teacher shows the assembled document representing the class' group agreements.

• The class decides the order for the paragraphs according to importance or other criteria the group develops. "What should go first? Last?"

• The class also decides on the color for each paragraph.

• During a prep period, the teacher prints the final document (in color preferably) and attaches another piece of paper where students will sign.

Day Ten:
• The teacher shows the final document (The Classroom Constitution) and passes it around the room to be signed by each and every student.

• When all students have signed, laminate the document and post it in the room.

• Go Public with it: Give the principal a copy. Put a copy in your Guest Teacher folder. Print a copy to go home for parents. Post it on a class web-page.

• Beam the final draft to the Beamers or to a class Tech Crew who manages the class set of handhelds. They will beam it to the other handhelds.


Optionalor Modified Plan (If beaming doesn't function smoothly, consider using this plan. This could kick in after the students have brainstormed the list of class agreement ideas & have grouped and labeled the ideas):

• Once the final draft is on each handheld. Have each student save it as their own ("C.A. - Julia" for Classroom Agreements - Julia). Then each student goes through each bubble-idea and color codes it either green, yellow, or red depending on how well they think they perform that behavior. Green is great, yellow if fairly good, red means there's lots of room for improvement) (ie: Raises hand to share a comment or question with the class ... I think I'll color code that yellow because I'm pretty good at that. Hmmm, listens when other people have the floor to talk... I think I'll code that red because I know I talk a lot to my table partner.)

• Have students type a paragraph or short paper using Docs to Go about how they are doing in terms of helping our class be a great place to learn. More advanced students could write about 3-5 things they are doing exceptionally well, then another paragraph about what they're doing pretty well, and another paragraph about what they could do to help our class be an even better place to learn and grow as well as tell HOW they will put their plan into action. They could also include and introduction explaining why we have class agreements, and a conclusion explaining how everybody's efforts (or lack thereof) contribute to our class atmosphere. Some students could write 1-2 things about each of those paragraphs, while other students might only be
expected to write a single paragraph explaining what they're doing well and a personal plan to improve one thing to help our class be a great place.

• Each person should choose at least one buddy whom they trust to have a writing conference with: listen / read over their
buddy's plan, offer any suggestions to make the writing or the plan stronger. Ask questions. Encourage them. Check in with their buddy from time to time to see how their plan is working - be a supporter!

• At the end of each term, students could review the color-coding of their Inspiration map & make any changes. Then review their personal plan, and type a short reflection as to how they see themselves progressing (or not) towards the intention of the Class' Agreements. They may wish to revise their plan. Print it up for their notebooks. The teacher should keep a copy of everybody's plan in their palm or printed in a folder.

Modifications for special needs students:
• Assist students pick out 1-2 behaviors they could improve upon and write a single paragraph detailing their plan.

• Assign a buddy to help them

• Print out the Inspiration diagram & have them cut out the bubbles, sort them & then paste the ideas onto a separate piece of paper. This might be a good idea for everybody unless they can upload their map onto a desktop computer to get a larger viewing space.

• Allow them to write a shorter Personal Plan and Reflection paper.

Modifications for TAG students:
More capable students should be expected to:
• write a five paragraph personal paper with an introduction, 3 body paragraphs describing behaviors they manage well which help our class, behaviors they do fairly well but could be improved, behaviors they could work on to help our class realize it's goal, as well as a final paragraph detailing how their personal efforts and / or the efforts of their classmates could help our class be a great place to learn and have fun.

• troubleshoot, assist other students struggling with the process,

• be responsible for checking out & checking in each handheld as well as make sure they are charged properly and get to the next classroom

(Ed Tech Units Only)
• I think the opportunity to use handhelds and keyboards will be intrinsically motivating to students.

• Also, I believe people of all ages enjoy sorting and organizing things into groups. Students will get to do this in a fun way while using Inspiration.

• I also think people like to analyze their own behaviors - they take magazine surveys & other such things to see how they
measure up. Again, students will get to rate themselves by color-coding the class set of behavior bubble-ideas (in Inspiration) according to the level of efficacy the class deems is important for our class to function well.

• Students will get to set a personal goal, make a plan to reach that goal, reflect upon their progress, and revise their plan throughout the year.

• Students can be supportive an empathetic towards other classmates in an effort to attain a class goal.

How will student use the technology as a tool to enhance their learning?:
(Ed Tech Units Only)
Student will use Inspiration software on the handhelds to facilitate critical thinking and discussion both on a personal level, small and whole group level. Students will be able to review / revise their thinking and their personal plan / goal at different times throughout the year without having to start from scratch on paper. This will give them added opportunities to improve their keyboarding skills as well as assist them in becoming more facile with different functions built into the concept mapping software. The inherent flexibility of the technology tools (hardware & software) as applied with this unit will encourage the construction of "agentive narratives" (from Peter Johnston's book CHOICE WORDS.) That is, students become empowered to tell
the story of how they are becoming responsible, active participants & learners. The use of technology in this unit provides opportunities for students to see themselves as inquiring individuals who are part of a diverse community who contribute to each other's growth. Inspiration software is all about making connections between things. Peter Johnston, in his book, says, "Connections are at the heart of comprehension or understanding. They provide anchors and retrieval routes. The more connections, the more flexibly something can be accessed."

• Did each student color-code their own personal version of the class Inspiration map?

• Did each student type up a plan to attain a personal goal reflective of their ability (TAG? IEP?)

• Did they contribute during class discussions - listening, paraphrasing, offering suggestions & ideas & insights?

• Did they review and revise their initial plan and / or write a reflection paper (an "agentive narrative") of how their plan and the group process unfolded throughout the year?

• Did they edit their writing for Ideas & Content? Organization? Conventions?

• Did they fill out the end-of-year survey regarding the activities we did during this unit?

Strand (sub-topic):
English: Writing, Speaking, Listening
Social Science: Social Science Analysis and Civics / Government

Common Curriculum Goal(s):
• Planning, Evaluation, and Revision
• Speaking
• Listening
• Writing / Writing Applications for Expository Mode K-3
• Social Science Analysis
• Civics & Government

Academic Standards/Skills to Support the CCGs:
Civics and Government:
• Identify rights that people have in their communities.
• Identify ways that people can participate in their communities and the responsibilities of participation.

Social Science Analysis:
• Identify an issue or problem that can be studied.
• Identify how people or other living things might be affected by an event, issue, or problem.
• Identify possible options or responses; then make a choice or express an opinion.

Planning, Evaluation, and Revision:
• Find ideas for writing stories and descriptions through various sources, including conversations with others, and in books, magazines, textbooks, or on the Internet.
• Discuss ideas for writing, use diagrams and charts to develop ideas, and make a list or notebook of ideas.
• With some guidance, use all aspects of the writing process (e.g., prewriting, drafting, conferencing, revising, editing) in producing compositions and reports.
• With assistance, revise writing for others to read improving the focus and progression of ideas.
• With guidance, proofread one’s own writing, as well as that of others, using, for example, an editing checklist or list of rules.
• Present and discuss own writing with other students, and respond helpfully to other students’ compositions.

• With assistance, clarify and enhance oral presentations through the use of appropriate props (e.g., objects, pictures, charts).
• Use clear and specific vocabulary to communicate and, with assistance, establish the tone.
• Use appropriate intonation and vocal patterns to emphasize important points.
• Maintain good eye contact while speaking.

• Retell in own words and explain what has been said by a speaker.
• Connect and relate prior experiences, insights, and ideas to those of a speaker (e.g., through mapping, graphic organization).
• Answer questions completely and with appropriate elaboration.

Writing / Writing Applications for Expository Mode K-3:
• Write appropriately for purpose and audience.
• Create a single paragraph with a topic sentence, simple supporting facts and details, and a concluding sentence.
• Use vivid adjectives and action verbs.
• Begin to elaborate descriptions and incorporate figurative wording in own writing.
• Write correctly complete sentences of statement, command, question or exclamation.
• Follow third grade conventions for spelling, grammar, punctuation, & capitalization
• Develop a unified main idea. Use details to support the main idea.
• Write brief reports: Use diagrams, charts, or illustrations that are appropriate to the text.

Benchmarks (Does not apply to all lessons.):

Instructional Technology CCG(s) Addressed:

Demonstrate proficiency in the use of technological tools and devices.

Select and use technology to enhance learning and problem solving.

Access, organize and analyze information to make informed decisions, using one or more technologies.

Use technology in an ethical and legal manner and understand how technology affects society.

Design, prepare and present unique works using technology to communicate information and ideas.

Extend communication and collaboration with peers, experts and other audiences using telecommunications.

Career Related Learning Standards Addressed:

Exhibit appropriate work ethic and behaviors in school, community, and workplace.
• Identify tasks that need to be done and initiate action to complete the tasks.
• Plan, organize, and complete projects and assigned tasks on time, meeting agreed upon standards of quality.
• Take responsibility for decisions and actions and anticipate consequences of decisions and actions.
• Maintain regular attendance and be on time.
• Maintain appropriate interactions with colleagues.

Apply decision-making and problem-solving techniques in school, community, and workplace.
• Identify problems and locate information that may lead to solutions.
• Identify alternatives to solve problems.
• Assess the consequences of the alternatives.
• Select and explain a proposed solution and course of action.
• Develop a plan to implement the selected course of action.
• Assess results and take corrective action.

Demonstrate effective communication skills to give and receive information in school, community, and workplace.
• Locate, process, and convey information using traditional and technological tools.
• Listen attentively and summarize key elements of verbal and non-verbal communication.
• Give and receive feedback in a positive manner.
• Speak clearly, accurately, and in a manner appropriate for the intended audience

Demonstrate effective teamwork in school, community, and workplace.
• Identify different types of teams and roles within each type of team; describe why each role is important to effective teamwork.
• Demonstrate skills that improve team effectiveness (e.g., negotiation, compromise, consensus building, conflict management,
shared decisionmaking and goal-setting).

Required Hardware:
• a handheld & keyboard for every student & teacher
• a large screen projector
• a Flex-cam
• a computer - preferably one that attaches to the large screen monitor
• a printer equipped with Print Boy (color printer preferably)

Required Software:
• Inspiration
• Docs to Go
• LexSpell

• Familiarize self with the TABA strategy (see the links for a description of the model)
• Make sure all the necessary software is installed & functions properly
• Make sure beaming is turned on and is functioning properly. A modified lesson has been prepared if such difficulties arise
• It could be helpful to have students set up in teams of 4 or so. They should have a team name. Consider using roles to
facilitate group work:
1) Beamer: responsible for receiving any beamed files from the teacher and beaming them on to teammates.
2) Materials organizer: makes sure all the handhelds & keyboards are put away properly or gets any paper & glue supplies for the group.
3) Reporter: shares the group's ideas, thoughts with the whole class
4) Project Manager: makes sure tasks are being completed in a timely manner, problems-solved (technology/group process)

Web Sites and Other Technology:
Hilda Taba's Inductive Thinking Strategy: http://imet.csus.edu/fundamentals/inductive/
(Look through the text until you see, "The Model" described.)

Other Materials:
possibly some 11 x 17 colored paper, glue and scissors
I've done this every year with my students. Generally haven't done it using the Palm Pilots. I think including a slide show of the process would be great!
Review / revise class agreements as necessary throughout the year.
Links: Our 2007 Classroom Constitution
Materials: Slideshow, Word Processor, Batteries, Point and Shoot