Tuesday, February 10, 2009

AR and LC working together

I am just plain confused on what to do. Although I began my cycle three focusing on Randon and helping him become a more successful learner/student/student teacher, I am not feeling that it is as aligned with my over all AR as it should be. I feel as though I am almost forcing it into the overarching focus of making my students more successful learners. I can see a flow and a possibility to the idea that through helping him become more successful I in turn am helping my students become more successful, but I am wondering if it is from him, or through him that I am making the changes.

To clarify, tonight in our LC meeting, I was asking my group about my problem. I see myself doing a number of things to improve student success and learning. I had the No D policy, the multiple redos, and now with randon there, I am able to focus on more one on one instruction with writing. Randon and I first took a set of essays and I gave feedback on them initially with his comments following and we discussed the presence and absences we saw between our comments. I blogged about that previously. Then over this past weekend, we took the intro and first body paragraphs to comment on. We did this as a blind set where I had one set of papers and he had another. When we met today, we discussed 5 of the papers specifically looking for absence and presence of comments as well as any changes we were making in giving feedback.
We noticed that we commented the same in regards to mechanics, grammar, citations, lead-ins, and structural elements. What was interesting were the differences we had looking directly at their quotation analysis. I focused on kids explaining the quotes in three parts: what the quote says, what it has to do to prove the point of the paragraph, and finally relating the quote to the overall point of the thesis. In other words, making sure the kids are explaining the big picture. Randon and I talked about this as an absence in his comments and focused on adding that to his feedback.

Additionally, we noticed some stylistic changes with our feedback. I made sure to add more positive feedback as I saw Randon had done the first time we did this, and he approached the feedback offering more in text comments as well as lists of things to correct and change. Another interesting point of change is that I tend to ask questions of the writer when giving feedback, and this is a technique Randon added this time as well.

Although this is all good analysis, at least good in my opinion, I am not sure how this is helping my students become more successful learners. I know that by helping him, I am helping them, but it feels very far out in left field in terms of the approach.

I wonder how the kids are feeling about getting dual sets of feedback. I think I need to have them reflect on it since this is the second time they have received feedback. Is it helping their writing? Do they feel like they have a better sense of what changes to make? Do they feel more successful and understand the writing process better? Or does having two sets become more confusing? Is it too much to consider?

So, this all got me thinking, to bring this back to my LC conversation, of my true action in helping my students be more successful learners. Randon and I are trying a strategy in our English 9 class where on editing days, if the kids do not have the work ready to edit, they come into the hallway with me, to receive 1-1 instruction and help them get caught up. I love this because I get to stay in contact with kids, especially my struggling students, and help them along. We created a feedback form for these sessions so that the kids have to think about what they want to accomplish in their time with me, and then rate the effectiveness of the session. I am not sure if the feedback form is accurately capturing what I want from them, but it is at least giving me some details on things I need to be thinking about. It is a start to say the least. And so far, most of the kids have rated it at a minimum of 3/5. The kids that are ranking it at that level are saying so because I wasn’t able to give them more time. The kids that I am able to move further along are usually rating it at 4/5 to 5/5.

The other thing is that some of the kids reflect that they are just lazy and not getting anything done. They lack the motivation to accomplish anything. It is almost like it really needs to be one to one writing instruction out in the hallway instead of 1-8 which is still more instruction time than in a classroom.

So, I am not sure where to go from here. Matt discussed in our LC that my focus should be on the kids. It is not really about Randon at all, because my AR is about me. What changes I am making and results I am seeing. Maybe that is part of my confusion and my need to feel like I am back in track on this AR work. I feel so separated from my kids and almost like the project isn’t mine because I have been trying to complete it through randon when it is still about me and the kids. I feel like it is about me and the kids when I am giving my feedback and having the instruction time in the hallway. Matt even alluded to me still being able to do what I am doing if I had a sub in the classroom so that I could meet with the kids in the hallway. I am not sure I totally agree with that because having Randon in the classroom has given me time to reflect and think about engaging my students. But, I see what he is alluding to. Also, he really urged me to focus on getting my students reflections about this change with dual feedback and 1-1 instruction time.
As always, more to think about, more to reflect on, and more to change. I just wish I could have some of my own 1-1 time with MR to think all this out. I am such a talker of ideas, that it helps just hearing her pose the questions back to me. I need to figure out where I am going with this cycle before it gets too unmanageable and possibly loses focus.

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