Sunday, November 27, 2005

Take FIve Week 7-2

Now that I have taken the leap from testing the "old fashioned way" into assessing student knowledge with discussions, I have begun to think about their writing and the formula we teach kids to follow. How necessary is it to have them follow these guidelines? I have always been a big believer in the structure and organization of writing. I still believe that these are things that need to be taught as a foundation on which they can build. But, I see that is something that is very structured and limiting. I guess all I am trying to say is that is there room for me to grow in the teaching of writing without losing the importance of the foundation.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Take Five Week 7-1

I thought I would let you know what I decided to do at my breakingg point last week. I decided to not give the regurgitation examination but rather to have a graded discussion for their assessment. The kids were happy about the change, but frustrated that they had spent all this time studying "facts" and now they weren't going to be assessed on those bits of information, but rather the larger ideas. Afterwards, they told me this assessment had raised the bar in terms of classroom expectations and ideas. Personally, I thought that was the best compliment!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Tak Five Week 6-2

Writing:daily journaling, blogging, essay tests, essays
Reading Comprehension:daily work, quizzes, tests
Critical Thinking/Speaking: sticky note questions, fishbowl, participation in class discussion
SAT vocab/Grammar:self explanatory
Work habits/Responsibility: daily assignments that don't fit into other catergories (non-academic assignments possibly)

My thinking has changed on these categories and I am sure they will again as time progresses. I know I want to change from the catergories I had previously (they reflected only the units I taught and how kids performed on each individual unit) rather than a refelction of their learning over time. Like Amanda said, it should show a contiuum of their learning.

The only questions I have are: should critical thinking be broken down into two parts of speaking and critical thinking? Do I weight these all equally seeing as how they are all important parts of the curriculum? I am also wondering about projects that I do that don't fit into these categories. Where do they go?

Take Five week 6-1

One thing I am really struggling with came to a head today in my Honors class. I have been challenging myself to make sureI am pushing my students in all of my classes this year to be better than the kids I had before. I have especially done this with my Honors and sophomores. However, Iknow I am sacrificing their passion for learning for the sake of getting through material. Really it has become in my brain, after much intense soul searching and thought, the idea of what is more important to me: quality or quantity? I am even at the point after having only limited time to discuss Inherit the Wind with them that I am considering not giving the test I have assigned for tomorrow, but instead just talking with them about the play. I miss this section of our class and they do as well. It seems somewhere after the first six weeks I lost sight of the passion for literature that I have always had and instead it was replaced by the evil demons TIME AND CURRICULUM! I never seem to have enough of time in class and so I just keep pushing the kids along through each subsequent unit not really going as in depth as I typically do. This has been a hard lesson and admitting my failure to these kids has been even more difficult for me. Where I am at now is I want them to have the same passion for learning that I do; I need to keep myself focused on that aspect and not so much on the idea of teaching more but teaching less better. Does this make sense?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Take Five Week 5-2

Another change I am making to my classroom is by teaching Hamlet. I am really scared! Hamlet is so difficult to understand and I know many students struggle with understanding Shakespeare (this is part of the reason I want them to teach it to each other). But, I am wondering if they will really get out of it all that is necessary (I know this comes back to the idea of why must I determine what is necessary)? Besides them fishbowling Hamlet, they are also going to be creating postings on the class blog for the outer circle to comment upon rather than writing a journaled reaction which no one else but me gets to read. That part I am quite excited about to see the depth of the question and that they will be able to recieve direct comments from their peers. I am thinking of adding a posting myself where they can comment on the fishbowl discussion itself to give the leaders and myself feedback to better the process. It is going to be an interesting rest of the semester I am sure!

Take Five Week 5-1

With reading the information about grading, I have come to a point in my career where I feel as though I need to make some serious changes. SCARY! I can see this mostly affecting the way I deal with writing in my classes. Typically I assign a paper, work with the kids on it, hand it back graded, and we are done with the whole process until they compose another. However, I am thinkg of changing this process especially with my freshmen. I have always preached that writing is a process, but never really given them the opportunity nor myself, for them to do rewrites. I have always seen it as something worthwhile ,but not something I had the time for. I am going to try to set-up conferences with them on an individual basis and then allow them to rewrite the paper not just making the corrections I have suggessted but for them to actually rewrite a better paper both in their view and in mine. I used this conference method at the beginning of the semester as a chance to get to know my students and have them explain what they liked about the writing piece they had submitted so I thought it is about time to revisit this conference aspect again.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Take Five Week 4-2

The other comment that I need to talk about this week is more personal but I think connects to what we are trying to do for our school and in turn to education. My grandpa passed away this last week. He was an incredible grandpa but even more so than that, he along with my grandma, instilled in me a great desire to be a life long learner. There were so many instances in my life where he would teach me a lesson. For my grandpa, one of these lesson was learning backgammon. When we reached a certain age, he would sit us down in his living room and pull out the backgammon board. He would teach us, let us make mistakes, and sometimes, even let us win (this was VERY, VERY rare). Looking back, the game wasn't about winning or losing (receiving the A or the B) but was more about spending time and developing a relationship with him, and most importantly, learning from our errors when we would make mistakes. He NEVER focused on the outcome of the game, but about how we could learn to be better next time. I really came to this realization being here at his funeral. He continually challenged us to be life long learners as he was. I miss him. Thanks grandpa!

Take Five Week 4-1

After reading some articles that Karl gave to the CIT team members to read, I have some serious thinking to do about grades. I was one of theose kids whose parents rewarded her for good grades, good report cards and good comments from parent teacher conferences. I guess I neve thought that being rewarded for working hard in school would be a detriment to me as a life long learner. In fact, I often believed, and still do, that it pushed me to work harder in school! These articles gave me considerable information to ponder concerning my grading of the students in my class as well as how I will approach Emma's interpretation and reaction towards grades. So much to think about and reflect upon.