Articulating our learning

The last two weeks I’ve worked with about 18 sophomore pre-AP classes who are in the midst of research papers on electronic privacy and intellectual freedom.   After conversations with the teachers, I developed a lesson to involve the students in website evaluation–because particularly with this topic, I knew they’d be running across many points of view and many blogs. The Assignment Inspired to make the lesson less teacher-driven, I pulled together a set of technology related links(including a link to Steve Dembo’s blog), had students […]

Do we care what they say?

Funny the little moments of serendipity that lead from one thought to one another, and lead us to see something in a new light. This morning, someone on Twitter reminded me of a blog post I wrote a long time ago, “How Long Does it Have to be?” about how students focused on the length of their research papers because they aren’t really engaged in their topics. As I was thinking about that, Christian Long twittered out the link to a fabulous post by Chris […]

The classroom heard ’round the world

   What happens when what is going on in your classroom can be shared around the world? Today, by sharing his students at Arapahoe High School in Colorado, Karl Fisch gave us just that opportunity–to peer into a classroom and see networked, scaffolded, engaged students at their best.   For weeks, students in several English classes at Arapahoe have been reading Daniel Pink’s book, Whole New Mind, and have been discussing it via live-blogging sessions, using an inner/outer circle discussion method.   (The inner circle discusses, the outer circle […]

Moving beyond four walls

  He liked to tear around on his tricycle.   He died in Vietnam when he was 25.   His name is Brian O’Callaghan and he is one of the many soldiers whose name appears on the Vietnam Wall.  His sister shared this photo with one of our students as part of a project our junior English AP students are doing, preparing brief video memorials for soldiers whose names appear on the Vietnam Wall. We used to do this project on posterboard.  Last year, we decided to […]

Seeing is believing, part two

   No one who watched the ads on the Superbowl doubts the impact of a well-designed visual.   But in schools, we often neglect that power.   It is  harder to make a striking visual, because it takes more time to make a well-designed handout—or a powerpoint that is thought-provoking—or a digital video that has impact—or even a well designed sign for the hallways. And it takes longer for our students to be ‘producers’ of content rather than ‘recipients’ of content, as Marco Torres puts it.  It also […]

Learning from our students–the roving librarian

Yesterday, I took the library to the students.  As those of you who read my blog may know, we’re closed for a renovation, and I’m currently working out of the ninth grade center library, which is a trek from the main high school.    I So in an effort to bring services TO the students, I’m experimenting with various methods of outreach. We’re deep into a major project on Vietnam, and students are involved in creating a digital biography of a soldier from the Vietnam wall, […]

The peanut butter cup effect

How do you empower students to engage with a text in such a way that they can come to their own understanding of it?  I just participated in a fascinating live blogging experiencewith Maura Moritz’s and Karl Fisch’s students at Arapahoe High School.   The students were using the inner/outer circle discussion method in their classroom to discuss the book.  While the inner circle held a discussion in the room, the outer circle was live blogging their discussion and holding their own with a few of us from […]

How long does it have to be?

  Probably one of the most frequently asked classroom and library questions about a project, paper, or even when a student is asked to check out book is–“How long does it have to be?”  There are lots of things embedded in that question that bother me. First off, there is the notion kids have that length equals quality.   I’m sure we’ve enforced that notion ourselves by assigning lengths for papers, powerpoints, # of pages read, etc.  in our attempts to satisfy the students’ “need to […]

Lessons learned?

   At our campus we’ve been working on a professional development strand on student voices, and as I wrote about recently, held student panels in order to get feedback from our student body. One thing I learned during the session is that our students, too, are suffering from information overload and we need to be providing more help and to provide more time when possible.  What have you heard from students about how they learn?  What are things you’ve tried or would like to try in […]

We’ve gotten Kudos!

   Bob Witowski at our campus has just received a coveted “Kudos from Drape” award from Darren Draper (who created the Pay Attention video, if you’re not familiar with his work) for Bob’s experiment using cell phones in his Algebra classroom.  We’re mixed in with some pretty good company getting this award, so big congratulations Bob, and thanks to Darren for the recognition!