Saturday, September 7, 2013

First Week

For many of us, blogging in the summer is much easier than during the school year. Though summer blogging is great, I suspect it is nowhere near as powerful as blogging during the school year. 

After all, blogging during the school year offers the best chance for us to reflect on our teaching. Each day presents tons of opportunities to see the impact, both positive and negative, of the choices we make.  It is one thing for me to write a lesson plan in July, that I may or may not ever use, quite another to come up with an idea that I get to try the next day or the next week.

How did my first week go?

We (my co teacher and I) had students for 3 days. Two 60 minute blocks and one 90 min block, for a total of 210 minutes. Our block three, due to lunches, was with us for an additional hour.  
I have yet to try any of the specific lesson ideas that I blogged about this summer, but I can see the influence of my summer reflections in all that I do. 

I am mildly disappointed that I did not manage to work in this lesson; at this point, it may have to wait until next year since I think I may fall behind if I try to work it in this week.

I am adjusting to our new seating arrangement, quads rather than rows.  So far so good.

When students are sitting in clusters/quads, there may be slightly more of a chance that they distract each other if a lesson becomes too teacher centric. But that is ok, since I am purposely trying to avoid spending too much time teaching via direct instruction. 

The positives of this seating arrangement, I am quite sure, outweigh the negatives.

In my AP Government class, I am on the verge of having my students assume more responsibility for their learning. I have yet to ‘lecture’ with powerpoint slides, which is something I am really trying to avoid with this group.
My wiki is setup. For content, students will view short videos that I have found online, often editing them into short 5-10 minute clips.
After viewing a few videos, following Ramsey Musallam's  model, students will fill out a google form that is sent to me, providing me with various information, including a summary of what they think they learned and what they struggled with, as well as answers to a multiple choice question and a free response question that I pose to them. Once I receive this data, I will be able to make informed decisions about my next moves.
I have yet to try this out with students, but I am all set up and ready to go. Will try it this week.    

In Western Civ, we spent some time with students, at least in one of our blocks, talking about how historians might approach a visual, or any source for that matter. We showed students this image of a person being tortured on a rack, talking to them about the concept of sourcing.
Sourcing, we told them, has to do with the types of questions an historian would ask to figure out where something  comes from. In this case, they would ask: Who created this visual? When did they create it? Why did they create it? And, most importantly, what do the answers to these questions tell us about the source we are viewing?
For the visual we showed students,  at this point at least, we do not have many answers to these questions. I am going to see if anyone on Twitter has information about the origins/original context of this particular image, and I will keep looking.
Thanks for taking the time to read. I hope you have an excellent school year!

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