The visiting teachers watched this fast paced interactive skills block, asked questions, looked at artifacts, and jotted notes. Then, we debriefed the 30 minute observation. […] When they see it, they will remember, and as I work with them in their own classrooms next year, they will understand the impact this practice will have on their student’s learning.
I compare what happens in this classroom with what happens in my ninth grade classroom, and I see that I really need to ramp up my work. These kids are presenting at the board to each other, playing games with each other, and engaging with the world in new ways.
I’m thinking that I want to have nine basic types of assignments next year, with a rubric for each of them that can be adapted to the specific content:
- Written essay
- Podcast or Video
- Drawn cartoon or comic book
- Presentation or debate in class
- Blog entry with links
- Song or poem or short story
- short biography of cultural hero
- Display for the bulletin board outside our room
- Painting, drawing, or sculpture
I’m also discovering that I need to divide up my classes between Understanding, Working and Presenting days — meaning days on which I’m working on comprehension of the major issues in understanding an ancient culture; days when the students are working on the projects associated with a given culture; and days when the students are presenting their projects to their peers. In a 45-minute class, it’s hard to squeeze all three in a single period. And it’s not to say that Understanding, working and presenting can’t happen all in a single day. The question is, where’s the focus? Are students working on projects for 25 minutes, with two 5-minute presentations from students, a 5 minute presentation from me, and 5 minutes on class business? Or is it a 25-minute debate from them, ten minutes from me, and 10 minutes of prep time for the debate? Thinking about structuring the time is critical.