Thursday, March 16, 2006

Harper's Index...

Harper's Index...This is something I want Kristin to talk about at our next meeting,but I thought I would give you a preview. The man who presented this is an AP teacher in the Cherry Creek district and it is something he does to teach critical thinking skills to his AP kids. He gives them a copy of the index and asks them to categorize the statisitics themselves. Then they are to find connections among the statistics and create an interpretation of the organization of the list. Basically, why is the list organized in this way? Then he asks them to discuss their own personal interpretations together as a class. He says the discussions get quite heated at times but it is interesting to have them hear each other's opinions and try to support their side and refute another's. At the end ,he asks them to write a well constructed paragraph supporting one of their catergories and why they grouped that particular set of statisitcs together. Hopefully this makes sense...Take a look at the index when you have time. It's fun and scary all at the same time (kind of like Disney World).

Thinking 'bout a revolution (actually just next year)

I have been try to think in terms of next year, how I am going to tramsform my current classroom into a laptop classroom. It is scary and exciting. I am not one of those people who is good with failing at things and so I know I need to do a lot of planning and talking with Karl, Brian, and Brad over the summer to prepare my self and my students fo r the journey they unknowlingly are going to undertake with me. In some ways, I wonder if it would be beneficial to let the students know there is a possibility they could be put in a laptop classroom much like the single gender classes. On the other side, it might be better for the shock and awe aspect (thanks Bush). I am trying to save student writing examples to practice peer editing next year. I am also trying to think of journaling assingments that aren't Microsoft Word based. Maybe on their own personal blogs?? Is that going to be too much to read? To keep up on and react to? The cool thing would be that other kids could react to their peers' thoughts and not just me.

Kristin and I got some great ideas at the CLAS conference in terms of student organization of ideas that I want her to share at our next meeting.

So much to think about but yet I still want the kids to contribute to process and decision making so I feel like I don't need to decide everything myself. Alos, I a know I am going to be pulling Ray in periodically to observe and help me reflect. It will be quite a ride!

Monday, March 06, 2006

What to do?

I am thinking pessimistically here, but I know my regular ninth grade position papers are going to be worse this year to grade than in years past. Why you ask? Because the kids waited and waited to make the corrections necessary to succeed until the last minute. Also, they jsut didn't seem as motivated to understand the writing process as in years past. So now comes the big question: do I give them the ability to rewrite? I want them to learn these concepts. I want them to be able to apply all of this to their future writings, but if they haven't put in the effort by now (many did not complete the three required teacher/student conferences) , then why should I reward their lack of participation and effort?

Essential learnings

Recently in our English Nine and English World Literature meetings we have been discussing the idea of essential learnings. I can see the benefits of this especially in English Nine, English Ten and even in American Literature; however, the issue I am having is with English World Lit. I can see how we all need to be teaching some of the same concepts and learnings, but it seems to me that this class is purely college prep and needs to be less focused on a set standard of requirements but rather on skills the kids want and need to know before they go off to college. It is somehting I need to do some more thinking about.