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Experimental Update

Today was great. I honestly had one of the best days in the classroom that I can even remember. Each of my hours went well with only minor bumps in the road for 3rd block. First of all, I can’t even tell you how much difference is made when you and your co-teacher have a chance to plan together and work out who is going to do what. For so long I was walking into that class without having a clue what was on the agenda. While this is only day two of the new quarter, I can immediately feel the differences since our planning session last week. I do realize how far behind I am in creating things for Thursday, but I am able to contribute in class instead of just standing around. Plus, I added an extra piece to the lesson today that I think went really well. We were having the students find a current event article and think critically about the content within it. Where did they find it? Is it credible? Those sorts of questions. Suddenly, I realized that we weren’t giving them the opportunity to check those sources against other sources. You know, a major component in critical thinking. The results were amazing. All of the students were able to think critically about the article they found, even if it did come from a credible news source. 

Then I also had an epiphany in the math course. I realized that I need to give my high flying students something better to do than play games when they are done. Duh. We have known that for a while. But what we didn’t know was how to get them engaged without spending massive amounts of time and resources in creating lessons just for them. Ta da! I give you Khan Academy. I can send them forward learning things at their own pace (So to speak because I warned them) and track what they are doing. They can work on material that is at their level while we work with the students who need the most help. Being as though motivation is a huge factor in schools, I think this will be beneficial. 

Finally, block 4 went amazing. Having the students spend time in a discussion group was extremely beneficial. For one thing, it builds community. Having the students share personal things with the entire group helps students to get to know each other. Second, it helped them focus on complete thoughts in speaking. I was able to correct major errors on the spot while having the students continue to practice their public speaking. Finally, it gave them an opportunity to review their material which is another step in transferring knowledge from short term to long term memory. What is more, I was observed the whole time. The observers walked out with smiles on their faces. With this particular class, that’s way more than I could ever hope for. Then we moved on to writing fiction narratives. This is something we still need to work on. The students are all over the place in regards to how they lay information out. I think we will need to work on more standard genre analysis and practice. This will give them time to practice sounding a certain way. It will also help them to work on grammatical errors that can easily be avoided as well as make their thoughts clearer to the audience. 

The experiment is working. Thinking about the why behind my lessons and being more thoughtful about what I am teaching is working well. Although this is just day one. I still have to work out how I am going to log all this stuff in a more systematic way. Sometimes I feel bad putting this all online like this. Yet at the same time, it’s my blog. Isn’t that what they are for? 

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