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Monday, September 21, 2009

Counterintuitive Discovery

Today I taught a lesson that went horribly wrong. I was being observed by my cohort leader, so I was already nervous, but some additional time constraints made me feel very rushed. As the lesson progressed and time slipped away, I started talking faster, pausing less between questions, and taking the first raised hand that presented itself. Needless to say, the kids were completely baffled.

After class, I had a couple of postmortem conversations with my mentor teacher and my cohort leader. I came to the surprising discovery that you can actually go faster by slowing down. Had I spoken slower and paused more, I would never have gotten so far ahead of my students. It's as though I was racing them to the end of the lesson. What purpose does that serve to get to where you're headed before the students do?

In the future, I am going to make a concerted effort to linger. I believe that by doing that, I will actually cover more information in less time.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Everything's in Motion

Today we had an assembly sposored by Honneywell and NASA about Newton's laws of motion. The presenters used hip hop, humor, and interactive displays to keep the kids involved. I'll give a more detailed critique later, but for now check out the handsome sumo wrestler in the blue trunks.

Just watch it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Excuse Me..But Your Question has an Open End

I inadvertently sat in on what turned out to be a rather clever little lesson on open-ended questions. While I still think that name could be retooled a bit, the demonstration itself was quite useful, and surprisingly, it was aimed at students in a 7th grade health class.

As teachers we need to get into the habit of asking questions that probe just a little deeper. If your question can be answered with a single word, you probably aren't delving all that deeply into the subject. In the lesson I witnessed, the teacher challenged to students to ask her open ended questions. She made a game of answering with as few words as possible. At first, she was able to deliver yes and no type answers, but gradually, some of the students started to get it. By the end, she was getting a lot more "why do you like that?" and "what do you think about that?"

The teacher may not have known I was eavesdropping, but I am thankful that I did.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Let the Testing Begin

Three days into the first week of school and already we're talking about state testing. Within the first two months of school, our students will spend 5 days, a full school week, taking norm referenced standardized tests. That's five days right at the beginning of the year, before they've even brushed of the summer malaise, where they won't even have an opportunity to learn new thins.

I haven't had the opportunity to ask kids what they think about all the testing. They are probably used to it by now, since evidently it has started in kindergarten. Still, it seems excessive to me.