Sunday, January 27, 2008

We were telling stories...

My kids spent this past week focused on "Story" from A Whole New Mind. It was a big week for us all coming off a pretty good start with "Design." I had emailed the links of our work on "Design" as well as blog reponses from our invited guests to Daniel Pink. He was impressed with the work the kids are doing. I shared the email with the students and they were, of course, very excited that he was interested in what they were doing. He even left them a question to think about.

The kids read "Story" on their own this week completing an activity from the portfolio section and then we also started working on thesis statements from their Wikified Research Paper. We began talking about one girl's idea about her WRP topic and before you knew it, it became a free exchange of ideas and helping one another out with possibilities each could explore for his/her paper. Some students even posted links on our class blog asking for further feedback on their papers and for the entire class to use as a way to communicate beyond the classroom. I love it when things are spontaneous! It is so encouraging to see kids helping kids become better learners.

We fishbowled with live blogging on Friday. Period 2 our guests were our school board vice-president Renee Howell, and Kristin Hokanson . The kids did a good job once again. I am continually impressed with their starting questions. They always seems to make me take a step back and remember that they are only freshman. Crazy! Renee sat in the class in the outercircle while Kristin contributed from King of Prussia, PA (I love that name). It was really interesting to change the discussion to a topic the kids could relate to a little more. It seemed stories are such a huge part of all of our lives that we have so many examples to fit with what Pink was talking about. Beyond the discussion, one really awesome thing happened (like Karl says when you work with high schoolers you have to say awesome every now and then). I have a brand new student thrown into the mix of Pink, 1-1 environment, live blogging, wikis, WRP, PLJ, and well, me. Two of my students have taken him under their wing showing him how to set-up everything from his blog, wiki, live blogging, etc. They really stepped up and I couldn't be prouder.

In period 5, our guests were Christian Long, Jim Gates, and our own CIO, Dan Maas. These kids greatly improved over last week asking better questions and focusing the discussion to more relevant issues. In fact, my cool thing for this class was that one of my students broke her arm on Wednesday night at a soccer game, came into school Thursday, and stayed home Friday. I received an email from her mid-day on Friday asking if she could still blog with the class- umm, let me think about it- YEAH! She blogged from home with a broken arm. Why? Because she didn't want to miss out on the experience and her learning wasn't limited to our classroom. That is AWESOME!

Overall, the kids did a much better job. They were more focused, stayed on topic, and asked good questions. So, suggestions? Yep, here are some to think about:

  • Jim Gates offered up a good pointer for Maura and I of bringing in good comments from the outer circle to the entire class when we meet again to make sure the inner circle didn't miss out on any of the valuable conversation in the blog. Great idea!

  • I would like for my students to start exploring the texts more in-depthly and asking bigger questions. I guess going beyond how this relates to me and looking at the text in a global sense. This might be a stretch for them, but I know there are those that could lead the way!

  • I don't feel as though my presenters are as prepared with their questions as they need to be. This is something I will bring up in class.

  • I would also like to see this next week, because it fits in so well, for the students to begin synthesizing a wide variety of texts (all different media forms) to prove their point or to ask good questions. One, this would help them go beyond the basics of the book; two, it would broaden their perspective on how big these issues really are; three, it pushes their thinking. Jim Gates did an excellent modeling of this for them. He brought in a Christmas Story he often passes around, a clip from NASA, referenced a movie, Apollo 13, and podcast all while talking about story. WOW!

  • Finally, my students were always very good with their fiction books by using the book to back up their points or using it as a jumping off point to ask good questions. They can do the same with non-fiction. Use those quotations people! They won't bite, I promise!

Up next week: Will Richardson, Christian Long, Judy O'Connell, Eric Grant, Tim Stahmer, and Renee Howell. I can't wait to see what we talk about then.

1 comment:

Kristin Hokanson said...

Really enjoyed working with your kids...quick question...Does the outer circle have a discussion leader with prepared questions too? Have been rumbling a TON of ideas around modeling your process...thanks for allowing me to be involved