Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Teaching How to Think not What to Think

   Control the how not the what or why. To do this, build choice into the lessons but keep the skills and objectives the same. An added benefit of each student or group of students doing something different is you can have them present to each other & keep their peers' attention; there's nothing worse than having everyone present on the same thing… 

   You'd think this would be obvious, but it was and still is being done. Here is what I think of when I create a project (chart below), and then I think of how to tie in as many standards as I can. I usually look at how I can connect something from each section into an activity that is meaningful to the students. 


ResearchWeb Search, text-based, audio-based, video-based, interaction-based with peers, local community centers/monuments/historical societies/libraries/etc, field trips, & interviews
PresentationVimeo, SlideShare, GooglePresentations (not public), Keynote (not public unless posted), Live presentations by all for all work. Include Compliments & Reflection as well as MLA formatting & citation.
CollaborationPartners or 3 - 4 person groups. Rotating through whole class. Though constant free choice, you must work with everyone. Sometimes have a free choice group with anyone.
StudentInterestThemselves, Sharing, Movies, Music, Books (Audio), Sports, History, Family History, Personal Experience, etc. Take a Survey.
ReflectionSurveys, Collaboration, Feedback, IronChef Feedback-Response Presentations, Application of Reflection in Future work/teaching

  Here is one of the simplest project examples that is solid CommonCore (Science/English/History), or at least what I'm going to say CC should be (it still could boondoggle on us at any moment  ;) From the Research Project Menu:

Nature Research 
Day 1 - Steps 1 - 3
Step 1: Pick a Group of 3 - 4
Step 2: Pick an animal, geographic location, or aspect of nature to research.
Step 3: Reflection: Why do you want to research this aspect of nature? (2-3 sentences). SHARE.
Research: 5 websites per person, 5 quotes per person, & 5 analyses per person (1-3 sentences on what the quote is saying and why it is important). SHARE.

Day 2 - Step 4 
Step 4: Write an outline of your research - have as many aspects (body paragraphs) to research as group members- use all the 5 quotes & analyses from each member as a pool to pick from. Collect pictures to support your evidence. Use Google Doc. SHARE.

Day 3 - Step 5 
Step 5: Finish your research essay complete with Works Cited, introduction, conclusion, InText Citations, & completely correct spelling and grammar. Google Doc. SHARE. 

   Here is another example but one for essay writing. It is Science/English using a novel example to help focus on organization, form & logic (higher taxonomy):


An Essay Example - The Lorax from Matt Powers

   This model of Remix-My-Presentation is most valuable in classes that rely upon any form of memorization. Students can watch it over and over (and they do!!) to refine their ideas. 

    Students have fun with this "icebreaker" English assignment because they can choose a novel example. It is self-affirming & easy:


Characterization with Homer J. Simpson from Matt Powers

It can also be very randomly creative as well. The randomness will protect you from cheating, increase engagement & win you admiration. Students hate boredom & condescension most. Win their loyalty & attention, and you can begin teaching anything. Half of "teaching" these days is classroom management which is controlled by design easily. 


The weeds that grow in a garden
 are simply helping heal & hold 
the soil together 
for the flowers to bloom their brightest. 
When we spend all our time pulling 
up the weeds, we kill the soil 
and starve the flowers 
we were trying to nurture. 

Teachers, 
be careful gardeners

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