Monthly Archives: December 2012

a little too inquerious

My main placement teacher had a great idea for a lesson – give some students some primary resources and have the students be historians and do history! Great!

I planned the lesson well enough, spent a few hours looking for good sources over at the library of congress, worked up a lesson plan with multiple forms of assessment, differentiated instruction, and all that jazz. It was only going to be a short lesson, 30 minutes. I’d talk for 5 minutes, and let them go.

Sometimes, reality doesn’t match my imagination. I should have taken a picture of the exit slips (and their work for that matter) I had them do. Several students said it was the “worst lesson ever.”

The lesson started well enough, we did a preassessment of primary sources, what they’re used for, what a historian does, etc. They understood that. But then I told them they would be historians, and they’d need to construct and interpret items to make a visual representation of a historical event while answering the big idea and unanswered questions while looking for multiple perspectives… (OK, that was a run on sentence. The lesson was thirty minutes, with five minutes of talking and a lot of answering questions. The point is, I don’t think some college kids could do the assignment. Either I was too vague, or something else. And here I am, chattering away in these parentheses.)

Part of me thinks the students don’t think of me as the teacher yet. I need to establish that ASAP. It’s hard as a student teacher, because I have to defer so much, but it is possible.

Secondly, I could have planned the lesson better, predicted the questions they’d have. Though I did want the assignment ambiguous. I succeeded at that.

Thirdly, this was a tough lesson. It was just plain tough. A few students said they could have used more time. They needed to know directly what to do. A few students tore up their primary sources. Some hated the lesson. But the worst response I got by far was: “I don’t have an imagination.”

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on blogging

Informal blogging (writing), commenting, and connecting with other bloggers (people) has changed dramatically.


For those careful readers, it’s no surprise that this blog started for school as a requirement. The purpose of requirements on something like a blog is so that you learn its value. But that sounds like mandatory volunteering. Still, sometimes (definitely not all the time) certain requirements do turn out to become hobbies or a part of function to be human.


I like writing – even love it – but blogging was never my forte. Either I’d put too much thought in a post (that maybe 2 people would read) but burn out, or just never put any ideas down because they weren’t good enough. I think I have found a happy medium. I opened up my blog this quarter to the general public (and have got likes!) after I noticed that my posts weren’t just for “school.” My posts had some relevance to the greater community of pedagogical thinking.


Keeping my blog focused on education has allowed me to always be thinking about what to write. I take notes when in my placements and in class or simply just talk to other people. It allows me to formulate some ideas before sitting down and blindly typing whatever pops into my mind, like this post. I think my blog posts have been getting better over time, though every once in awhile the ideas just aren’t there. But that’s the great thing about blogging – getting ideas out (though you have to find that happy medium, I think 1 to 2 posts a week is that).


Recently, I have been getting a lot of comments. Part of that, is I keep the posts short, but not too short. 250 – 700 words seems good. Any less or more the post might be passed because there isn’t enough thought, or it rambles or turns into an essay. Keeping the topic short, and the idea clear and open seems to also work well. These two posts demonstrate that: A tale of two schools and finding the time.


A lot of comments on other blogs have been within the cohort, though I check the blogs on my blogroll periodically (reader) and try to stay informed. There is a lot of information out there. The river analogy is good, you just fill up a little as the river keeps flowing. There are a lot of good ideas, posts and blogs out there. I think starting with a little community already will help my blogging to grow. The responses within the cohort look like they are not only reading my comments, but responding to the comments as well, such as here.


I know I’ll keep growing as a blogger as this year pans out. It’s useful just to have a shared space to keep in contact with others going through something similar. It’s also a great way to build up ideas in a non academic setting. PHD’s aren’t the only people doing research. Sometimes research is looking at a new piece of research, and trying it out. Sometimes it’s reaching a challenging student in a new way. Either way, blogging is useful stuff – even when it’s a requirement.

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