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Showing posts from November, 2017

Drawing Conclusions

Synthesis. You know...making meaningful inferences about the relationship of sources. Bringing them together. Drawing a conclusion. Original thinking. Synthesis...a skill that doesn't come easily to our students.

In the future, students will be continuously asked to read, watch, and observe a variety of different resources and then draw a conclusion based on their understanding. In order to synthesize effectively, students must be able to comprehend, analyze, critically think, and then finally, articulate their own original ideas. In a world where it is easy to just Google an answer, how do we ask our students to draw their own conclusions based on what they learn from these external sources? The answer is simple...exposure and practice. The application, however, takes strategic planning, creativity, flexibility, and patience by the teacher in order to knock it out of the park. This week, I am observing our Social Studies Department and am excited to share a few ways our teachers …

Storytelling

From the beginning of time, stories have been passed down from generation to generation. Whether they are told orally, in print, or digitally, the art of storytelling helps frame who we are and what we value. The most interesting thing about storytelling is that depending on who is telling or writing the story, it is bound to change based on the speaker and interpretation of the audience. While students are constantly exposed to storytelling, they are not always taught how to effectively tell their story through various forms. Teaching this art is quite the undertaking; however, once learned by students, the stories they produce will help shape our future.

As I observed our Media Department and talked with our teachers over the past few days, I learned that despite the differences in classes and projects offered, their main focus is always the art of visual storytelling, and wow... our students do an awesome job sharing various stories about our school. Ms. Lisa Traut and Mr. John Gels…

Why?

Why does something happen? Why do you feel that way? Why does it work this way? Why is this right? Why is this wrong? Why should I care? Why?

One of the most powerful questions we can ask is "why?" In today's classroom, all teachers should strive to promote curiosity as it leads to engagement, critical thinking, and creation. It is a beautiful thing; however, how do we make curiosity a fixture in our classrooms when our students are not always striving to learn more? This is the tough question that teachers tackle as they design lessons and activities. In addition to curiosity, teachers are challenged to create a learning environment that allows for problem-solving, which I would argue is a key component of curiosity. During my visits to the Technology and Engineering Education department this week, my observations encouraged me to reflect on curiosity and how we tailor our classes to foster a learning environment for questioning, creating, and problem-solving. This type…

Pursuing Your Passion

Ambition. One word...packed with meaning. I would argue that being a teacher is one of the most rewarding professions out there because we get to help make dreams become a reality. We inspire. We motivate. We coach. We assess. We praise. We teach. All in a day's work. Working with young people is a privilege that we don't take lightly, and it is always our goal to help them realize and reach their goals. There is no better way to help students find their way than offering different learning opportunities and unique class options. As I've discussed in previous posts, I am proud of the courses offered by our school that help students gain knowledge, practice, and skill that will eventually help them on their chosen path in life.

The passion, energy, and talent I witnessed this week as I continued my classroom visits left me invigorated and anxious to come back to visit in the future. In particular, I visited two classes that I've heard about and walked past on numerous o…

Adding a Little Flavor

Creativity Collaboration Critical Thinking Communication
4 powerful ingredients that all classrooms need to include on a daily basis to produce a delicious, well-balanced lesson. I discuss student ownership on a weekly basis in my blog posts, and today is no exception. This week, I have been visiting Family and Consumer Science classes and learning about the classes and skills they offer our students. The creative, original work created by our students is quite impressive and fun to observe. After talking with our teachers and questioning students about their activities, I realized the 4C's are permanent ingredients in the FACS classes to create innovative recipes for student learning. 
Culinary Creations Wow - our school offers awesome culinary classes for our students, and while I've visited in the past, this week was different as I had the chance to talk to both the teachers and students about their work. In just one day, I witnessed the process of baking croissants, plannin…

Originality

One of the biggest challenges a teacher can face in the classroom is creating original thinkers. You know....students who do not regurgitate the thoughts and ideas of their teachers, peers, and the Internet. While we can always motivate and ask students to share their own thoughts, ideas, and analysis of the text/worldly events, our students struggle to do this for various reasons.

Throughout my classrooms visits this week, I was impressed and refreshed as I noticed the variety of activities and strategies our English teachers have put in place to produce original thinkers. Per the English curriculum, teachers are expected to assess how students read, write, and speak about a variety of topics and texts throughout the school year. In addition, we consistently challenge our students to create, analyze, and evaluate arguments. In order to do this effectively, we must first teach our students how, and then motivate them to do so on their own, using their own thoughts and by drawing their…

Empowering Student Voice

Why do I write? A powerful question with so many possible answers. Ms. Gillian Schneider, an English teacher at our school, asked her Creative Writing students this question to start class. A display case in front of the B wing at our school includes her students' responses to this critical question:

To relax when stressed
To be creative
To understand myself
Because no one will listen
To express myself
To think deeper
To organize my thoughts
Because it's fun
My writing doesn't get annoyed when I rant
To look at the world in a different way
To inspire others
To escape from the world's problems

See....a powerful question with so many unique, personal responses.

I continuously tell my students that they will write, in one form or another, for their rest of their lives. As an English teacher, writing instruction is something I do on a consistent basis; however, the struggle has always been student motivation and ownership. There are so many benefits to writing, but it can b…