As Plato did for Socrates, as my students hope to do for our class, we are embarking on a well worn venture of scribing. Each year, I ask my senior class to scribe our class periods together in hopes of making a living history of their senior year of high school. I always tell them at their 20 year high school reunion for them to be able to look back and see all they did and discussed as seniors. This year, I am not teaching seniors (see previous upset blog re: Spelling Vocab) and wanted to still continue with the valuable practice of scribing.
I have had my second semester Honors class scribe before, but with their every seeming tendency to out do the previous year by talking to authors, I have lost the practice. There is only so much time! Or is there?
As I discussed scribing with my all boys class, and two Honors classes, they all seemed to value the idea of a scribe. They realized what a benefit it would be to their learning since it could contain the homework, discussions and notes from class, links to valuable resources, and maybe, just maybe, a little humor from class that day. As we talked about what each post should contain, we came up with an oral list of expectations regarding a scribe post. (Note to self: next time record this and write them down)
Scribe Expectations- from Smith’s recall
· Should contain the date
· Should contain the homework
· Should contain what happened in class: detailed enough but not boring
· Should contain notes and discussion information
· Should contain links to anything that was referenced
· Should have a “feel” of the class and classroom
· Well written and proofread
After signing up the kids with posting privileges, deciding the scribe schedule, debriefing after the first few scribes have been posted, reviewing expectations, learning how to scribe, post, hyperlink, embed, etc…, I am still not seeing what I hope to see in the scribes.
For example, here is a post from my all boys’ class:
Today we went over the correct prompt for a blog on PLN’s: Author, Title, What matters? Why? Link Summarize, Conections (self world) Conclusion. Example Topic: “A vision of Students today” by Dr Michael Wesch, Technology Rules people’s lives because technology is entertaining.PLN1. We then got time to Blog if some people forgot. We need to do PLN2 “what matters” on your CLASS blog for homework due Monday/Tuesday. Put any pictures for “what matters” in a folder/on a jump drive. Create collage. Post on Blog.
Notice how there aren’t any links, it is one giant ramble, and no additional information is provided. What this post tells me is that my class is boring, it is jumbled together, there is no explanation of the homework or what we did in class, and my class is boring.
I am not trying to be degrading to myself through this post, but I remember Alan November saying this summer at ISTE, that scribes are a great source of feedback for the teacher. It can tell you exactly what your students are taking away. I have never thought of scribes like that, but more as a tool for my students to help each other out. I guess I need to rethink what my boys are taking away each day. And, why are their posts so limited in content and depth? Why aren’t they helping each other learn?
My Honors kids haven’t completed any outstanding scribes either. Take a look at these two examples:
Today in English 9 honors we came into class, worked for 5 minutes to finish up our projects and then started to present. The first group to go was the group on King James. They made a movie about a guy needing help on a Macbeth research project. He seeks help from a king he found in Burger King who retells his life story. The next group to go was witch craft. They made a power point and showed a video clip from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. They brought up volunteers to be accused of being a witch and tried them for being witches. Most of them died. I counted two survivors out of ten. After them came husbands and wives. They too had volunteers come up and act out different types of skits. The group after them was tragic heros who also had people come up and act out a skit. We did not get through all of the of the groups so we will finish up on Monday. Over the weekend we need to read and annotate the first 3 chapters of Lord of the Flies. Also we need to blog about those chapters on the Class Blog.
First matter of the day, each student was handed an SAT vocabulary book and was told to write their names in the front cover. You are going to be required to memorize 15 words a week. Flip books to page 16. Complete lesson 1 until page 24 but do not do the writing portion. Make responses legible and neat. They are due Friday but do not take more than 15 minutes to complete. Wednesday is word day where you are quizzed on the words you learn and Fridays are the word tests. LOF annotation and blog also due Friday. All students are required to watch a video on Shakespeare as shown below the presentation notes. Take the Elizabethan presentation quiz on the computer and print it out. Sheet was passed around to sign the SAT books out. Globe Theater group came up first and presented their Prezi with small quizzes for the audience. They also asked class members to come up and give summaries of the facts they presented. Very creative presentation. Feudal System group went up and assigned every student a social position (i.e. serf, night, king). Members of the groups explained portions of their role of the social class they were assigned.
• Globe theater built in 1599 with help of William Shakespeare
• Burned downed once
• No costumes and used bags of pig blood for death scenes
• Actors died/ injured in stunts
• Plays held in “Inn Yards” before theaters
• Many special effects and grand entrances
• Plays took place in afternoon and lasted around two hours
• Theaters used for many weird purposes and flags represented types of plays
The Feudal System
• King and queen pass out fifes to all nobles.
• King passed down to first born son in every generation
• Nobles gave land to nights and peasants.
• Laws restricted the wearing of certain clothes
• Clergy almost equal to nobles
• Clergy were spiritual leaders and were bonded to a church and they were much like priests.
• Knights were part of army and wore large portions of armor
• Hired by nobles for protections of land
• Serfs make up 90% of the population and were poor.
• Serfs lived poorly and farmed land for their higher ranking nobles
Once again, my basic take away is BORING. So, what needs to change? I think I need to revisit the expectations and see what the kids think about the scribing. I know one student asked a follow up question about a piece of software I used in class because it wasn’t on the post- that is progress. I also had another student create his own duct tape picture version of Shakespeare to post with his entry. I know there are good parts of what we are doing, it just isn’t yet where I want them to be. How can I help them get there?