Yesterday was our first big plunge into discussion Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind. Although we didn’t invite any outside guests to blog with our students, it still was a good discussion. The kids really had some interesting things to say in both classes.
Participating in this first fishbowl gives our kids a chance to see the technology that will be used as well as try out their thoughts and questions discussing a non-fiction text. When we were first setting up the fishbowl, I talked with them about how important these fishbowls are with inviting in guests, the level of comprehension that this text requires and the huge opportunity for growth that this opportunity will allow. Basically, this will be like nothing they have ever done before and I want to make sure they understand that. No pressure- but I want to see them shine here.
Period 2 started with some great questions but really seemed to focus on the surface of the issue Pink is discussing regarding outsourcing left brain jobs. Finally my student assistant Ben jumped into the conversation (thanks Ben) to push their thinking. He asked them about outsourcing right brain jobs and couldn’t that be done as well. This really made the conversation move along. I try to stay out of the conversation for the most part but jumped in a couple of times to get them to personally relate to the text and ideas. What does outsourcing have to do with you? This class did a tremendous job of bringing in a lot of kids from the outer circle to help drive the conversation. Over 1/3 of the outer circle kids came into the inner circle conversation. And the discussion I saw taking place on the outer circle’s Cover It Live was fast paced and in depth. There was great push back and engagement. I was pleased to see how the came through on this first fishbowl.
Today we are debriefing on their take aways from yesterday’s discussion. Some of the things I think they did really well were referencing one another’s comments by name. I do not know what it is, but using someone’s name in your response shows the camaraderie and acknowledges another’s intriguing thoughts. I really am a big fan! Also, they seem to be really pushing one another about left and right brain thinking as well as Pink’s ideas regarding outsourcing. I love a good discussion. Another positive take away from yesterday was watching them use the computers to have instantaneous access to information. At one point a student was interested in brain surgery and what happens when you removed half of your brain; seeing as how none of us were brain surgeons, she could use the tool of technology to aid us all in our understandings. My student assistant Katie was looking over their blog today and truly amazed at the conversation these kids were having. She was quite impressed. I was too! (but I know they can do more).
Some of the things I want them to work on improving are of course pushing the discussion in all areas. I don’t want them to see the book as gospel but more as a place to start thinking differently wherever that might lead them. Also, I want as all English teachers would, for them to spend some time proofreading their response before they post it online. I want to see them listening to one another answering all the questions that are asked whether those come from the inner or outer circles. Finally, I want when they are quoting things to actually use the page numbers to help us all follow along. Seems trivial but I like to mark these quotes of interest in my own book.
The kid’s reactions to the conversations are recorded under the blog posting for the CoverItLive post. We are using CIL for the live blogging but still embedding it into a blog post so the conversation can be continued afterwards.
In Period 5 the discussion really focused on outsourcing as well as the future job market. It was an interesting discussion but I somehow expected more from them than what they did. I think as I said before it is always challenging to discuss non-fiction. This is one thing I noticed last year in our first few fishbowls. However, the outer circle’s discussion was very interesting. Some of the kids really have some amazing questions about our economy and how Pink’s philosophies fit into our troubled times. I am anxious to see where they go with this. Additionally, I am always impressed that when I think I need to jump into the conversation to make a point or steer it in a different direction that the kids end up doing that for me. Another fun point was doing the polls in the class with CoverItLive. This I think is one of the kids favorite features and I even had one student ask for a particular poll. We will have to figure out a system of how to do this so it is more student directed. (I am not trying to steal your job away from you Karl).
Some points that we need to work on are making sure that we are using the text, keep coming back to the text and citing page numbers of our references for others to follow along. One thing that concerns me in with this class is that I have a number of quiet kids who are fantastic bloggers but I need them to speak up and step up into the inner circle conversation- So many seem reluctant to jump in. I think they are enjoying the conversation online and would rather be there than the face to face conversation. We will have to discuss this in class today.
I am wondering going forward how next week with Daniel Pink will go. Will the students rise to the challenge? Will they do as well as the kids from last year? Should I invite their parents in for future fishbowls? Would I get any parents that would participate? So many thoughts, but I am glad we are on this journey again.