Sunday, October 30, 2005

Take Five Week Three-2

After reading my Honors students blogging from 451, I am so impressed by them. They established the norms as far as their expectations for each other's comments and they have not only managed to meet those expectations but really exceeded them in a number of ways. I am in awe of the textual support they are using to validate their opinions. They continue to amaze me and now I am encouraged to try this with my other classes. I think the one thing I wish was that there was more time to write back to them or to showcase their comments to the class. Soon I will be able to do this with the installation of the projector but I fear we will be done with the blogging for a bit with the end of 451 appraoching. I am thinking of using it to post questions for our discussions of The Chosen and to top it off, their group will post the question for the rest of us to comment on.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Take Five Week 3-1

Last year I introduced the idea of the fishbowl discussion to my sophomores and it went horribly wrong. I was very hesitant to try it again just believing in my head that it would go the same way. However, I decided to try it again after alot of urging on Ray's part. After having the students lead the short story dicussions, and setting up a mock fishbowl, the class completed their first fishbowl this past Tuesday. It was a fabulous success! The first remark I heard from one of my students after we were done was, "that was awesome!" They truly blew me out of the water with their questions, observations, and commentary on each other's thoughts. I was so impressed. I really took some time to reflect on why it went so much better this year than last. I couldn't figure it out. Did I set it up better? Were they better prepared for the discussion by setting up a mock discussion first? Were they just ready for something different and something for which they had more buy in? I guess I don't know but what I do know is that I learned a good lesson in failure and not giving up just because it didn't work well the first time.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Take Five Week 2-2

Changing the instruction of my classes to allow for more student driven knowledge has been interesting. I put my kids in charge of teaching the short stories before we begin Fahrenheit 451. At times it is frustrating because of the lack of participation for discussing certain stories, but for the most part, especially after today's discussion on Montgomery Boycott, they really rose to the challenge. The other aspect to this is that I am hoping it prepares them in a better way for the fishbowl discussions that are going to be the basis for our understanding of 451. I am not sure if I should be grading their leadership and participation of the discussion or should it just be something I debrief with them afterwards? This is the struggle I seem to come to most often. What needs to be graded for my kids to take the assignment seriously and if I don't grade will they still care enough about their own learning?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Take 5 Week 2-1

This week I set up my class blog and have really enjoyed reading their first responses. The dialogue that is occurring between my students is one that would have only occurred between a small group in class. Now they are all able to speak their mind and realize there are other view points. It is a learning process for all of us: teacher and students. I am so impressed! I just created a few more posts to have my students comment on to establish some background knowledge before we explore the larger issues in Fahrenheit 451.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Take Five Week One-2

The other comment I have to make on my personal learning journey for this week is how challenging it has been to balance teaching my students in my classes and teaching my colleagues through the 21st century learning cohort. It is amazing that we are facing the same challenges in our classrooms as teachers and then to see my colleagues struggling as learners. All of us our at different levels of interest-some want to try new things, some are far ahead and need us to move faster, others barely managing to keep up. It is almost more of a challenge to reach the interest level and keep my friends captivated in the classroom than it is to keep the interest level of my own students. I guess that is what constructivist teaching is all about- making the changes necessary to encourage the learning of all our students.

Take Five Week One-1

When Karl first approached me with the idea of taking 5 minutes each day to change my way of teaching into a more student centered constructivist approach, I was glad for the permission to change, to try something new. I always enjoy stepping to my classroom each day to teach my kids, but I hadn't really considered how powerful it would be to allow them to teach each other. Just over the last few weeks, it has been really encouraging to see them want to prove their point to me rather than me informing them as to the right answer. I am enjoying this!