Reflection and the Student Centered Classroom

» 27 April 2014 » In Presentations, Reflection, Students, Teachers » 2 Comments

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This week I head to Grand Prairie TX to work with teachers and students at Adams Middle School. We’ll be demonstrating high value learning strategies that foster rigorous thinking, student engagement, and deeper student reflection on themselves as learners.

The key to fostering reflection is scaffolding more choices for students to make about key elements of the lesson. Providing options gives students more to think about. Divergent student products gives students a chance to explain and defend their thinking. Student can then compare outcomes with their peers, assess successes (and failures) and design improvements. See my post The Reflective Student: A Taxonomy of Reflection

Students can be given "appropriate" choices to make about:

  • Content - what knowledge and skills will be studied?
  • Process - what materials, procedures, etc will be used?
  • Product - what will students produce to demonstrate their learning?
  • Evaluation - how will the learning be assessed?

We have a variety of activities planned for the week including workshop sessions focussed on how to foster students engagement when using learning strategies for defining, summarizing and comparing. For example, when we ask students to summarize we should giving them the opportunity to use their higher order thinking skills to analyze the patterns, evaluate what's most significant to them and craft a unique summary. 

While summarizing has been shown to be one of the most effective strategies for building content knowledge, that gain only applies when students are allowed to make their own judgements about what’s important and frame their summaries for an audience. When we ask them to "learn" the teacher's summary - they are reduced to memorizing "another fact."

Our training sessions will be followed by classroom walkthroughs - PD works best when you can make the connection to the classroom. I’ll also have the opportunity to work with some groups of students on the Marshmallow Challenge to demonstrate these approaches. 

Student centered Look-fors

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Think Like a Historian: Close Reading at the Museum

» 22 April 2013 » In History / DBQ's, How To, Literacy, PD, Strategies, Students » 4 Comments

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The Common Core encourages students to more closely read a text (in all it’s multimedia formats) by answering three critical questions: What did it say? How did it say it? What’s it mean to me? Here I model a Common Core close reading of my visit to a museum exhibit. I’ll dig a little deeper into the three questions with a few more prompts and provide answers as if I were a high school student reflecting on their experience.

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Selling Sleeping Pills – Common Core and Close Reading

» 27 March 2013 » In How To, Literacy, Strategies, Students » 6 Comments

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Close reading requires students to consider text (in it’s different forms) through three lenses: what does it say, how does it say it, and what does it mean to me? Here’s a three step process for mastering this Common Core skill using the guided reading of a TV pharmaceutical ad. You’ll have a chance to compare visual elements, narration and musical soundtrack.

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Digital History Workshop – Tech Meets Critical Thinking

» 24 March 2013 » In Ed Tech, History / DBQ's, How To, PD, Presentations, Publishing, Web 2.0 » No Comments

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Our goal was a practical hands-on workshop that fused technology, critical thinking, and strategies for students to be the “historian in the classroom.” We were focused on ways to use iPads for content creation, feedback and reflection. Plus we showcased a variety of other critical thinking digital tools for the classroom – iBooks Author, Haiku Deck, Evernote, nGram Viewer and GapMinder.

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Podcast: Reflections on Teaching Strategies That Work

» 11 December 2012 » In Commentary, Ed Tech, Reflection, Teachers » No Comments

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I had a great time recording a podcast with Mark Hofer and David Carpenter for their series Ed Tech Co-Op.

Mark led off by asking me to reflect back on my some of the driving themes in my career. I confessed that as a novice teacher, I mimicked my experience as a high school student and taught primarily via lecture mixed with an occasional “guess what the teacher is thinking” whole-group discussion.

But I recalled an “aha” moment after repeated visits to the art class in the classroom next door. I realized that if the art teacher taught art, the way I taught history, his students would be sitting there watching him paint.

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Mental Mapping: Video Game Maps Drawn From Memory

» 13 January 2012 » In Strategies, Students, Visualizations » No Comments

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Games are interaction with rules. They mimic the scientific method – hypothesis tested to overcome obstacles and achieve goal while operating inside prescribed system of boundaries. Video games provide failure based learning – brief, surmountable, exciting. While failure in school is depressing, in a game it’s aspirational.

Josh Millard recently began curating a growing collection of video game maps drawn from memory at his site Mapstalgia. Submissions range from detailed rendering to sketches on the back of a napkin. But they all demonstrate a great way to teach mental mapping skills – spatial relationships, sequence, causation, scale, location, and measurement.Use Mapstalgia as an example for your students. Then give them a chance to have fun while demonstrating their ability to translate gaming worlds into two dimensional representations. Let them compare maps of the same game to design their own mapping rubric. Explore different representations of game elements for clarity and design.

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How to Use Web 2.0 to Teach Literacy Strategies to Struggling Readers

» 03 March 2011 » In How To, Literacy, Strategies, Web 2.0 » No Comments

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We’ll focus on three core skill areas central to the Common Core standards – defining, summarizing and comparing using my guide to “18 Strategies for Struggling Readers.” Plus I’ll introduce some great websites that they can use with the strategies – the new digital literacy meets the old text literacy.

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How to Teach Summarizing: A Critical Learning Skill for Students

» 09 November 2009 » In History / DBQ's, How To, Strategies, Students » 14 Comments

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An essential part of a summary is that it needs to be expressed to an audience. In life, we purposefully craft summaries for a specific audience (directions for the out-of-towner, computer how-to for the technophobe). In school, the tacit audience for most summaries is the teacher. If students are going to learn to summarize they need to be given a chance to genuinely share what they think is important. Here’s a three step process for students sharing their summaries for an audience other than the teacher.

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18 CCSS Literacy Strategies for Struggling Readers – Defining, Summarizing and Comparing

» 25 August 2009 » In How To, Literacy, Strategies » 25 Comments

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I’ve been working with teachers to develop Common Core learning strategies to support the literacy and comprehension skills that students commonly use across the content areas. This pdf includes 18 lessons organized in two ways: by comprehension strategy – defining, summarizing and comparing and by target reader – non-reader, word caller and turned-off reader. The lessons are designed as templates which teachers can modify to use in their specific subject areas.

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Summarizing What’s Important with a “How To” Video

» 06 August 2008 » In Ed Tech » No Comments

Explaining “how to” requires students to research a subject, evaluate what’s important, and create a guide for someone else to follow. It gives them an opportunity to write for an authentic audience and purpose and use skills that rank very high on Bloom’s taxonomy. When we ask students to summarize without giving them an audience […]

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