Monday, February 23, 2015

The Last Before The First



            Thanks to Stacey, Tara, Dana, Beth, Anna and Betsy and all this blogging community for the Tuesday Slice of Life!  Looking forward to the SOLSC, and this time with my class!

          I'm one of the concierges for the Classroom Slice of Life, with Margaret Simon of Reflections on The Teche. Please ask questions if you need help! I'm getting ready, my assistant at JK's Slice of Life (first time slicing today), my students are, too and my colleague, Max, of Teaching From Behind.  We.Are.Excited! I hope you are, too, and will join us! My students would love to connect with yours. We're in Denver, Colorado, happy to meet others all over the world!

             My time this week will be filled with questions because students are selecting their new units for the rest of the year. My school supports each student in choosing a specific unit (oldest students choose more) and the teacher builds the curriculum for that student around the choice. Today we began. We not only work on content and great questions, but interesting and innovative products in which to communicate our answers. The big questions from me: What will you ask of your topic? And what product type might you want to practice/learn about?



              Here are some topics I asked questions about today, questions like "Will you explain what you mean by your words? Will you divide this part into smaller parts? Why is this particular topic important to you? Many were being considered, and except for the beginning of the day, explaining some writing and art assignments, starting two writing groups, that is what I did for the day. I questioned the thinking of why the particular path is chosen, where else to explore, what has surprised so far. Some of the topics students are exploring to see if they'll be interesting are miniatures, ISIS and its origins, sketching, cultural stereotypes, French cuisine, quantum physics (gulp), cultural aspects of May Day and other May holidays, graphic art, conspiracy theories, and on. Sometimes I have to do my own research in order to help the student begin with a broad background. It may sound daunting, but my job is to facilitate, not teach the subject. The student has to do most of the work.
          This is rather what it felt like today:

       It was a great day, a good beginning...


photo credit: An explosion of assistance via photopin (license)

29 comments:

  1. What an inspiring way to teach. I can only imagine that the engagement level is sky high with such a way to study. Looking at their list of topics made me smile-quantum physics--Yikes! What an exciting way to spend time in a classroom. Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. Thanks Kendra, it is exciting, and filled with much learning, too.

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  2. " I questioned the thinking of why the particular path is chosen, where else to explore, what has surprised so far. " This alone is the deep and rich stuff of learning, Linda. I'm looking forward to reading more about what your students come up with.

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    1. It's always interesting, Tara. They might hear a news story, or see something on tv, or connect with a concept from their math classes. The process is thoughtful, but sometimes (for me) mind-boggling about the topics. Thanks!

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    2. What a fabulous way for kids to see inspiration and connections to learning all around them. I wish their was a school like Logan right here in New Jersey,.

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  3. Linda,
    I love your school. We kind of do this with Genius Time but kids find the sources I don't build their curriculum. I can't imagine the work involved but what great learning for you all. What true celebration of personal learning and choice!
    Julieanne

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    1. Yes, you're so right, learning about all kinds of topics for me, too. It is very like Genius hour. Thanks, Julieanne!

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  4. What a range of topics! I can tell they are related to curiosity, and isn't that what we want for our students? Good luck with the challenge this year!

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    1. Thanks, the students are really getting excited, writing some things 'ahead', brainstorming topics. Very Fun!

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  5. I would love to teach this way. We do project based learning (Renzulli's Enrichment Model) with a group of 6th grade gifted kids but we only meet once a month. The days feel so full and I am usually exhausted at the end even though there are 6 of us facilitating. Guiding can be harder than teaching in many ways.

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    1. Yes, I know what you mean, takes patience along with care with the words. Glad you understand, Margaret.

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  6. Your questions are really designed to move the students forward in their thing and their units. A curriculum that is student driven...what a novel idea.

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    1. When students know what they want to find out about, the rest of the curriculum falls into place rather easily, & the students' motivation is endless, a good thing.

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  7. I an't imagine what it would like to teach at your school. Such a refreshing way to teach and learn. With testing next week, I am quite jealous.

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    1. Thanks Leigh Anne, it is a different way, but learning happens this way too. Wish others could give it a go & figure out that the motivation helps very much.

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  8. Love this way of teaching... doesn't happen often enough.

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    1. Thanks, Donna, would be nice if it did happen more.

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  9. I love you describe the personalized lessons and differentiation--so good. My students will be blogging on our class blog for Slice of Life too! I am hoping we can access blogs to comment from school (always iffy with our proxy filters).

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    1. I was hoping you would be blogging with your students & hope we can connect, Lee Ann.

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  10. I bet you're tired! Questioning, thoughtfully as I can tell you do, is EXHAUSTING! I am impressed with their topic choices.

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    1. Yes, there is so much to discuss, and in different ways per the needs of the student. Thanks!

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  11. I am a bit envious as March is testing month for us. Maybe one year I have enough help so that my students can participate as well. Good luck with your classroom blogging!

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    1. Whew, it's going to be interesting Jaana! They are excited, the nuts & bolts are coming in to place! Thanks!

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  12. So much exploration taking place. How lucky they are to have you as a guide. It's so different from my classroom experiences. Would love to hang out with you and your students.

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    1. It can be interesting, that's for sure, Ramona. Today I discussed cultural stereotypes, racial profiling, Catholicism, heaven & hell depicted in art, changes in future predictions-amazing what the students are aware of & thinking! Wish you could come hang out with me!

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  13. Love this student centered learning! It sounds amazing. Looking forward to the March Slice and reading your posts.

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    1. Thanks Julie, will look for you too-exciting stuff!

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  14. Hooray for SOL! I love that you are a classroom concierge. So great. I love the title for this post, too. It reminds me of Angela Johnson's The First Part Last. I'm excited to do SOL again this year...scared...but excited. I'm always glad to know you're doing doing it, too! <3

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    1. Thanks, Jen, it's going to be quite a month with everything else going on too. Students are excited! Hope you'll have fun doing plus your own personal writing!

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Having a conversation is a good thing!