Saturday, May 23, 2015

#youredustory, Week 20: Engagement in Reading Tasks

Prompt: Student Engagement in Reading Class
Sweet annotations by Ryan M, photo by me

So I don't teach a reading class, but info teach a literacy-rich history class. And yes, kids need to encounter text in every class. Every teacher is a reading teacher.

A second preface: if you read this blog occasionally, you know I'm not a huge fan of engagement. Points can make kids engage. What makes kids curious? What makes them want to read more?

For me, there are a couple things at work here. One is material that is interesting. Yes, obvious and vague. Readings we do to prepare for Socratic seminars are usually discussion-inducing in the prep stages. So there's a clue there: giving kids the time and space to make meaning to talk about what they've read is important. I've seen kids really dig in when the readings are followed by a Socratic seminar - there's an aspect to the public performance that I think helps kids dig into a text.

Additionally, texts that speak to larger human issues - inequality, evil, issues of race and class - seem to generate interest in the topic at hand. The more readings stray from a clear, 'correct' answer seems to help too. As a history teacher, I watch kids engage in a task when they're trying to figure out what happened in the past, however recent that past may be.

Finally, if my kids have a purpose for reading they know what they're looking for. They know what they might see. They're readier to do the intellectual work of making meaning of a text.

So there's a scattered answer about curiosity and reading. Give them time and space to talk, get texts with big issues and without right answers, and give kids a purpose for reading. Not a magic bullet but a start.

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#youredustory, Week 19: Anti-Bullying Message From My School

Prompt: What strategies does your school use to send an anti-bullying message to students?

Wikibully by TheCuriousGnome
from Wikimedia
Explicitly, schoolwide? Not a ton. All freshman go to a cyberbullying presentation by our counseling department, who are joined by our dean and school resource officer from the local police department. And while I’m glad this is presented to all freshmen, it is a bit heavy on scare tactics of online activity. There is nothing said about creating a positive digital identity.

Within class, there is a lot of behavior regulation that can be done. We loop with our students for two years, and as we get to know kids more - and kids get to know each other more - there is much less nastiness said between students.

However, the transferring these actions to the public sphere - when kids know they are out of earshot of adults - continues to be an issue.

We all need to do more in this area, I think.


More information on #youredustory can be found here. Consider joining in the fun!

Friday, May 8, 2015

#youredustory, Week 18: Favorite Education Conference

Prompt: What is your favorite education conference you've attended? Why should others attend?

Photo by Rachel Wente-Chaney, used with permission
This. This is why I love iPDX. Three people I respect a ton sitting and talking, pushing on each other about what good professional development is. Conversations like this one with Scott, John, and Kristen are what I love about having edufriends all over the place that I get to see every so often.

But that can happen at any conference. And it does, to a certain extent. But the quality of the people at iPDX - facilitators, attendees, keynoters - is so high. This is definitely one of the joys of a smaller conference.

You get to a point where you go to enough PD - mandatory, site or district-based PD or PD that you choose to go to that - that you know bad pedagogy in PD when you see it. Sit and get sessions that focus on apps or tools. Led by one person in front of the room talking at people.

30 New Ideas in 60 Minutes. Session clickbait, if you will. 'Come listen to me for sixty minutes - you'll leave smarter.' And there are people I can sit and listen to for sixty minutes. But that isn't a long list.

It can be different. Longer sessions. Explicit instructions about being a facilitator, not a presenter. Time to sit and reflect and create. Time to build something to take home and use. Time to continue the conversations begun in sessions. Keynotes that push the boundaries of what a keynote can be.

These things can happen: that's what iPDX is. That's what iPDX does. It can be done.

And I'll own it - at iPDX15 this year I was nowhere near as good as I wanted to be as a facilitator. Some sessions didn't quite go where I expected them to go. In others I did too much presenting and not enough facilitating. But I‘ve reflected on - and hopefully learned from - my mistakes. And I've got a list of ideas about what to do better moving forward.

At places like iPDX I learn from watching others facilitate. Kelly Kermode thinks about experiences in sessions really thoroughly. I loved how this year she had attendees creating, moving, and offering feedback in her session on visualizing data. Curt Rees left me with a lot of small things that I can do as a teacher to impact culture on a campus. When you start thinking about cultural and cultural shifts, ideas can get big and daunting in a hurry. Curt did an excellent job keeping things manageable, but oriented towards action. Leigh Graves Wolfe gave a closing keynote that was incredibly participatory - like 500 people participatory - and was a huge risk on her part. And NAILED it.

I leave conferences like iPDX excited. Energized. Looking forward to implementing ideas in my classroom and at PD that I organize. Looking forward to marinating on the ideas around PD that echo through my head.

I leave hopeful for more conference experiences like iPDX.


More information on #youredustory can be found here. Consider joining in the fun!

Friday, May 1, 2015

#youredustory, Week 17: What Motivates Learning

Prompt: What motivates learning?

Yeah. Choice is important.
A choice of public right of way by Kate Jewell from wikimedia

In an ideal world, in order of importance:
  1. Curiosity
  2. Choice

In an ideal world, it’s not really a list. It’s two things.

In school as it is currently constituted, in rough order:
  1. I need to get a __ so I can get into college / so I can stay eligible / so my parents don’t get angry / etc
  2. The test
  3. Compliance
  4. Engagement
  5. Choice
  6. Curiosity

Yeah. I’d say there are some things that we need to fix...


More information on #youredustory can be found here. Consider joining in the fun!