Tag Archives: interest

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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building a classroom

I’m going to skip right to the point, the following is just a (pinterest free) list of ideas/necessities for building a classroom. Comment and add, please!

  • Supplies area
  • Schedule (daily, monthly, yearly, modifiable)
  • Desks (table groups)
  • Subject “wallpaper” as follows:
  1. Math – big ideas, academic language, examples/problems
  2. Literacy – books/authors, genres
  3. Science – experiments, current science topics
  4. Social Studies – artifacts, current events
  • Discipline (how to solve problems, class motto, community, notes)
  • What to do when finished with work (activities either class/teacher generated)
  • Places to sit during silent reading (variable locations temporary)
  • Meeting area (rug?)
  • Attendance/behavior (slots, sticks, techno)
  • Books/library
  • Teacher supplies/desk
  • Technology – computers, laptops, etc.
  • Student work (art/written with clips to change it weekly/monthly)
  • Number line
  • Places for backpacks/instruments/lunch
  • Current objectives
  • Safety kit
  • Water/sink
  • Bathroom pass (rubber chicken??)
  • Multiple work areas (drafting table, low table)
  • Multiple chairs (bouncy, soft, solid, spinning)
  • Super Nintendo (The kids will have been born a decade after it was released…)
  • Music (pandora?)
  • Creative spaces to work

And other things too! It’s been good looking at a variety of classrooms to get some ideas.

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“I believe that life in school must be thought of as life itself, not simply preparation for later life.” – Ayers, To Teach

 

I keep getting up in all this preparation, the training, the observing, the practicing but I have been forgetting something. There are those eternal questions, the questions that fill those late nights that seem to happen only sporadically.

 

I remember talking until dawn on countless occasions, filling the air with conversations on science and philosophy, existentialism and existence, determinism and free will. Some of the questions might seem pointless as I grow a little older every day, but they aren’t.

 

Those kind of conversations – the conversations that delve into what’s really real, what’s really important, what’s really happening and why – are so vital to the human experience. Education, that word alone carries a weight above the world. What is it? Why do we need it? What is progress? Are we better off than we were before?

 

I remember a story my dad told me when I was younger. I thought it was stupid at the time, but it has really got me thinking recently – A poor fisherman goes out fishing and meets a man who teaches him how he can pack some fish to sell. Later he tells him that with a new net and a new method he can catch even more fish and open up a shop. Eventually he can hire people to fish, pack and ship the fish. He can hire boats and crews to fish. The process is very efficient, the fisherman becomes very rich and operates his business from the city. “Now what?” asks the fisherman. The man tells him that he can retire and find a cottage and go fishing at his leisure.

 

The story didn’t make sense to me when I was young. I thought that being rich – having things was all that mattered. But I grow older everyday. I watch that a year has passed in only a moment. I went from repairing printers to married and on my way to becoming a teacher. When did this happen? How did this happen?

 

Many times I’m in class and wondering what I’m going to do next. Or I’m out of class and planning for the next moment. Everything is always in motion. There are a million things going on at once.

 

 

I look at my students, diverse in ideas, culture, and personality. I don’t want to sell them on a false future. I want them to fall in love with learning – because that’s what life is about. We listen to each other, we learn from each other, we find each other and we find the world we’re living in a new world. A world to go fishing. If you like to fish.

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Writing to write

There’s a thing I have been involved in, though never “successfully” complete, called NaNoWriMo. Basically, it’s national novel writing month. The goal is basically to write a novel starting and ending in the month of November (around 50,000 words to be complete). The point is to just write as much as you can and edit later. It’s fun, and it get’s me motivated to write.

 

What about the classroom? Most of my students aren’t even reading novels. A good portion of the students avoid reading like the plague. But what they do enjoy, as weird as it sounds, is writing. Kids love writing about themselves, about anything really. Kids are natural storytellers, and are way more creative than we ever give them credit.

 

So, I saw this on twitter, basically a (free) class kit for NaNoWriMo. I don’t really think the kit is necessary, I think I could fashion some way to track students’ progress that would be fun and non competitive. I would like to use October as planning, November as writing, and December as editing. We can do typing lessons simultaneously during the editing stage so they could transfer their handwritten work. The best part would be the sharing. They could read excerpts to the class and share their work, maybe even create a compendium of their work like with Seattle 826  (something I’d also like to do as a field trip). Everything is still in the early stages, but I see that kids like to write, and I want to see that continue.

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