Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Magnetic Student Empowerment

Magnets by Rick Morris
Magnets empower my students! I was first introduced to the power of magnets at a Rick Morris seminar. I've used them ever since! Magnets can be used in a multitude of ways: as a means to fairly call on students, to stop the "teacher, teacher" cry that drives all teachers crazy, magnets allow one to easily see who's completed an assignment, as an expert board, and a way for students to collaborate and discuss texts.

One of my students' favorite use is the "Got Questions?" board.  It is primarily used during math and the first hour of class when students are turning in homework, starting AM work, or just have something they want to share.  The method ensures that all students have easy and fair access to me as often as they need my help, advice, or concern.  Students simply go to the board and move their magnet into line.  After I help a student, they move their magnet down and call for the next student - Wow! students are empowered to lead.  Of course, I have taken the time to talk to them about using a kind tone when calling on their classmate.

Also, this magnet-method builds community. Students know that I'm available and often I will hear mini-stories about their weekends, their concern, or a cool video clip they saw. These mini-conversations are relatively brief, students know that others are waiting, but this magnet-system has created a space for them to share about their lives

During the independent practice time in math, the magnets ensure that all students get called on fairly.  This matters greatly to my early-finishers who know if they finish their practice early, they can start their homework.

The expert board empowers students to use their skills to help others.  The required "expert" changes daily, sometimes hourly, so all students have the opportunity to be an expert. I have seen first hand, shy students move their magnets up because they knew they had a skill or knowledge and wanted to help their classmates, even though it was outside of their comfort-zone, especially if there were very few "experts" on the list. Again, magnets empower students to lead.

Magnets provide a means to monitor progress while letting the teacher see at a quick glance who's completed various assignments. Students love to go to the list and move their magnet up once they have turned in an assignment.

In addition, I have used  magnets as a means to monitor writing progress (rough draft, peer-editing, final draft).

Last year, I began using magnets as a means for students to discuss texts and/or collaborate.The magnets allow students choice in who they want to be their discussion-partners = students are empowered to make smart choices.  

Two of the best side-benefits to using magnets is that students keep it all organized and it's front and center for all to see.


  1. Awesome ideas, Missy! Thanks!
    ~Lisa from Learn Like a Pirate page

    1. Thank you, Lisa. Thanks for stopping by.