Thursday, April 26, 2018

One Year in AP: Valued Student Reflections (Week Thirty-three)

By Mark Heintz

Context

I have two main focuses as I write this weekly blog. Two driving questions that I have in my mind while making decisions.  They are:
  • How do I know if my students know? 
  • How do I get them to know if they know?  
Whether that is a skill or content, I want to know if they know it.   I no longer think it is acceptable for me to guess or get a feeling on whether or not they know it. Getting the students to know if they know it is downright hard, but I am really attempting to get to a point where the students can recognize their understandings or progress on their skill levels and content knowledge.  Therefore, the purpose of this year of reflection is to see how I make progress towards these two goals and elicit feedback from staff, students, and hopefully people who follow along on the journey.  You can read how last week went here.

Week Thirty-three: Answer the Question

This week the content focus was primarily on World War I. Here were the standards for this week:
  1. Analyze the responses to the influenza pandemic of 1918.
This week's skill focus was still centered on analyzing charts, maps, and texts and pulling evidence from documents to support a claim.
  1. Write one cause/effect, and one comparative short response that reflects an understanding of essential content.
  2. Analyze charts, maps, graphs, and texts.
  3. Write a thesis statement, contextualize a prompt, and draw evidence from two documents to support the thesis. 
Provide Specific Evidence: 

This semester, I am including, or trying to include student's perspective on the week.  We are in the final weeks of the course and I wanted to know what the students learned.  I asked a few students to send me a document that defined what they learned over the last eight months.  It was a very open question and I told them it did not have to be just content or skills.  The question was simply, what did you learn this year?  Here was the result.

Student Response

Over the course of this school year, I’ve learned a lot from taking AP World History. I walked in on day one of my sophomore year into this class just like any other class, except for the fact that I was a little intimidated by the things I’ve heard about the course. After taking it, I learned a lot about history (obviously), as well as a lot outside of history itself, such as myself, the public education system, and what it truly means to learn.


One of, if not, the largest contributing factors to success in this class for me and a lot of others have been the way the class has been taught. Up to date, I’ve really loved the checklist system. Using this system has actually kept me on track with homework while simultaneously giving me the opportunity to work at my own speed on the content of each lesson. This is something I know a lot of people have struggled with, myself included, more specifically last year in AP Human Geography.  Reading and taking notes in a given packet never worked as well as this checklist system, as it didn’t engage me, took a lot of time and patience, and just felt like a drag to accomplish. While some may say to stop complaining because ‘that’s just how school works’, I do agree. Regardless, I also think these things can be accomplished in different, possibly more effective ways. As students, we’ve been enrolled in this game where we score points for submitting things and regurgitating information. How we do may determine the course of our lives. With this, we’ve had the idea of how school ‘should’ and/or is run engraved into our minds for as long as we’ve been playing. The checklist system makes it feel like everything I’d need to know is given right in front of me, quite possibly because it is (for the most part, content-wise).

What does any of this have anything to do with what I’ve learned this year? Simple- I’ve learned what system of education works well for me, and learned what I have to do in order to be successful both without this checklist system and with this system by challenging myself at my own speed rather than faintly paying attention in class. This hands-on system further engages me with my work and material, at my own speed. I’ve grown to really like this system, which has given me the chance to actually learn how and why Islam was so powerful internationally between 600-1450 BCE, as well as why that is no longer the case. While this may sound wonderful, I’ve noticed that a lot of students, myself included, have struggled with writing. More specifically, a lot of us have struggled with how we implement given or known information and context into short essays, document-based questions, and short-answer questions. This isn’t something at fault to an educator, rather a difficult concept by nature. If there is something I’d like to see improved in this course, it would be how writing, or specifically this element of writing, is taught. Again, this isn’t something taught in a sub-par manner, rather a difficult component of this course. Improving upon this would further our knowledge while bringing students up to that next level, and very likely being more successful in the class as well as on the AP Test.

Many think that much of the information thrown at us in this course is or will be irrelevant as soon as the bell rings it is final time this school year, which in my opinion is a slightly oblivious thought to have. While, yes, a chunk of the information won’t be necessary for anything of vast importance to us in the future, a fair majority of the information gives us a better understanding of the world we live in and why it is the way it is today by giving us context to its current events. This, in an ever-changing world, is valuable to have for anyone who tries to understand what is going on within it in relation to economics, politics, and conflicts which often affect the general population. That’s kind of a far-fetched thought for some, but at the same time may be something as simple as asking “why have gas prices gone up recently?” Oh right, there’s conflict taking place, in those oil-rich nations on that side of the world. Oh right, those conflicts have been taking place for long before anyone reading this has been around. Thanks, world history.



Overall, yes, I have learned that the Persians used satraps way back when. But besides this, I’ve learned to open my eyes and actually discover what it truly means to learn and understand something, as well as open my eyes to the world around me. Truly learning the given information is what lets me utilize and apply it to our world today, what’s going on around me, and why. I’m not sure I would have retained the information from this course as well as I have if I used anything other than this unique checklist system, which I’m interested to see how this system will be used in the future, possibly in other courses, possibly in other schools. This system could be useful for a lot of different students as we continue to play the education game. While we all grew up knowing it is important to learn, have we all truly understood what it means to learn? Is this something that has been stressed enough?


My Response

Wow! There is a lot to unpack.  David stated, "After taking it, I learned a lot about history (obviously), as well as a lot outside of history itself, such as myself, the public education system, and what it truly means to learn."  I love this comment! History, education, and learning all in one.  David and I have talked about the public education system throughout the semester, so it was not a surprise to me that he referenced it in his reflections.  He continues to comment on the gamification of the education system, but I really appreciated that he highlighted the learning that took place throughout the semester.  It is a hard balance for a lot of students and how grades are set up.  Sometimes tasks are more important to the students than the learning.  It is a constant challenge for me to not have things go in the grade book but still valued.  This is especially hard in a class that is required for all students to take.  I am always tweaking things to give students more autonomy in a mandated AP course. #struggle

Another comment,  "Up to date, I’ve really loved the checklist system. Using this system has actually kept me on track with homework while simultaneously giving me the opportunity to work at my own speed on the content of each lesson."  One reason I went to the checklist system, you can read about the process here, was for the students to work at their own pace.  The class is very rigid and I have in the past been stricter about the "homework".  I appreciate that he zeroed in on the openness of the content checklists.  I feel that I am still fairly linear in my approach, but to hear students say it is working is good.

David wrote, "Reading and taking notes in a given packet never worked as well as this checklist system, as it didn’t engage me, took a lot of time and patience, and just felt like a drag to accomplish."  I am not sure this is a by-product of my class or just his reflective nature.  I wish that I could have students be this reflective of what works for them.  I need to work on reflection being a natural part of the class.

Students accessing material they know is very difficult.  "More specifically, a lot of us have struggled with how we implement given or known information and context into short essays, document-based questions, and short-answer questions." It is hard to be able to transfer information "learned" in one context to another.  Doing this through writing is especially difficult.  If there is something I’d like to see improved in this course, it would be how writing, or specifically this element of writing, is taught.  This is a constant focus and very difficult to do.  I have been focusing on it the whole year and it is still a struggle.  I have been trying to get kids to find their voice and what resonates with them in history.  However, it is a standardized course and difficult to do.


Truly learning the given information is what lets me utilize and apply it to our world today, what’s going on around me, and why.  A great takeaway and I wish I could have every student realize this or have the internal drive to understand it.

As a whole, the systems of school are what can help or inhibit learning.  I think the focus is what learning really is and have a cohesive definition of it to move forward in making changes to the "system."  I love his ideas and how open he was in his reflection.  I value his honesty and wish I had that with all of my students.  Something to hope for in the future.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Reflections On "How Things Used To Be"

By Kim Miklusak

As the school year comes to an end and we start planning for next year, I have been hearing people reflect online and in person that students in general are coming in "lower" than previous years on state standardized tests and in reading ability and that this "wasn't how it used to be."  I'm not saying I've never said this before, and I'm not saying we don't have new challenges in areas of testing, technology, etc., but I'm struck by a few thoughts on this and reflected more after following some threads on Twitter.  One in particular by @triciaebarvia pointed out that this Declinism is a bias as well as is deficit thinking about our students--both elements to consider as we plan our curriculum, content, instruction, mindset, etc...



So this led me to reflect on my own beliefs:
  • What do we mean when we say "kids are coming in lower and lower" on standardized tests?  In reading?  In writing?  What does that mean as a value judgment on another person?
  • Do we believe all students can succeed if we view them as "lower than" someone who came in the past?  Do we hold implicit biases about students or groups?  Further, do students internalize this in their beliefs about themselves?
  • Did students actually come in "stronger" before?  How is that determined by our metrics, our assessments, and how they are used?  (i.e. do we believe students used to all read the whole book we assigned outside of class before? has the testing changed? is the testing accurate?)
  • Have societal expectations changed?  Are our students, for example, taking on more responsibilities?  Are they working more hours?  Are they taking on more AP classes?  More sports and activities?
  • Would we want our own children--if we have children--to be viewed as the "low kid" or one of "those kids?"  And if the answer to that question is, "My child wouldn't be the 'low kid,'" what does that mean for how we view our students?
What if we instead celebrated our students' strengths, as @triciaebarvia says in her tweet--and others have pointed out?  How can we combat deficit thinking about our students: defining them by a perceived what they are not rather than who they are and who they want to be?

As we prepare our curriculum, we set goals of wanting our students to have agency and take ownership and embrace their learning.  Let's reflect on our own beliefs and be sure our mindsets are framed in such a way to create and support those conditions in our classroom!  Another way to do this is to be sure to follow people on Twitter and read resources by others who have been explaining their experiences on this for some time.

Related: I'm currently reading Being the Change by Sara K. Ahmed and will have more to share in another post next week!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

One Year in AP: What did Students learn? (Week Thirty-two)

By Mark Heintz

Context

I have two main focuses as I write this weekly blog. Two driving questions that I have in my mind while making decisions.  They are:
  • How do I know if my students know? 
  • How do I get them to know if they know?  
Whether that is a skill or content, I want to know if they know it.   I no longer think it is acceptable for me to guess or get a feeling on whether or not they know it. Getting the students to know if they know it is downright hard, but I am really attempting to get to a point where the students can recognize their understandings or progress on their skill levels and content knowledge.  Therefore, the purpose of this year of reflection is to see how I make progress towards these two goals and elicit feedback from staff, students, and hopefully people who follow along on the journey.  You can read how last week went here.

Week Thirty-two: Answer the Question

This week the content focus was primarily on World War I. Here were the standards for this week:
  1. Analyze the responses to the influenza pandemic of 1918.
This week's skill focus was still centered on analyzing charts, maps, and texts and pulling evidence from documents to support a claim.
  1. Write one cause/effect, and one comparative short response that reflects an understanding of essential content.
  2. Analyze charts, maps, graphs, and texts.
  3. Write a thesis statement, contextualize a prompt, and draw evidence from two documents to support the thesis. 
Provide Specific Evidence: 

This semester, I am including, or trying to include student's perspective on the week.  We are in the final weeks of the course and I wanted to know what the students learned.  I asked a few students to send me a document that defined what they learned over the last eight months.  It was a very open question and I told them it did not have to be just content or skills.  Here was one of the responses.

Student Response

I didn't really know what to expect with this course because I'd heard so many different takes on it from the juniors and seniors I know who'd taken it - some people said it was the hardest social science, some said it was the easiest. At the end of my year in the class, I have a couple observations and general feelings.

First of all, I think the structure of the general course is really easy to understand. There were a lot of ways the grand scheme of world history was broken down into a lot of patterns which only really began to come together at the end. It's incredibly difficult to connect everything after learning it in fragmented bits, but I don't know if there's really a shortcut to putting the pieces together. I had my own method with filling out blank worksheets that helped me a ton, but I know people that do pretty well even without this.

As for the structure of the class itself, I think the checklists were more efficient than any giant textbook I'd have to carry around. Being someone who lives for routine and organization, I appreciated the consistency the Thursday checklists. As much as I didn't ever want to do them, I have to admit that it's probably tons better than annotating a 10-page packet or trying to translate a textbook into comprehensible content. I also think the way the checklists were structured well in that they threw in a lot of reviews (annoying, but effective). A lot of people complained that the excessive review was too difficult for a weekly thing, but I personally didn't mind it because it helped so much. For the first semester final, studying was so much easier than it was last year for APHG because the checklists incorporated continuous review rather than me teaching myself all the content over again.



A big component of this class was an emphasis on writing. Some of the other classes started learning how to write DBQs and short answers after the entirety of first semester, and that just seems crazy to me. Considering things can still be confusing and we've been working on them all year, I can't imagine what it'd be like learning them so late. I think the idea of adding in a component of the DBQ every unit was a great idea because before you know it, you can do the whole thing and know how it all fits together. Obviously, there were times that I was pretty confused about the format, but after doing a lot of examples in class and analyzing them, I'm comfortable with the process. Honestly, I didn't really enjoy writing with partners because it didn't exactly portray what I did or didn't know. I either felt like I was carrying the group or that I was “cheating” because I wouldn't have known the content by myself. The best progress for me came when we had to write individually and get direct feedback from the teacher because it was brutally honest in what you could and couldn't do. Overall, I think the amount of planning and thought put into this class really shows and it's been enjoyable for me despite the work required.

Another Student Response with a Differing Opinion on the Checklists

If I were to change something about the AP course I would probably change a part of the checklist. Sometimes I feel that the review for each checklist is intimidating because of the timer it has, I used to rush through it to be able to finish. If I redid this course I would hope to get more practice on stimulus tests and have more opportunities to help improve my grade. Otherwise having a good mindset about AP helped me improve in this class and gain more interest in taking the course.

My Response

I didn't know what to expect with their responses. I purposefully did not want to skew their reflection so I intentionally made the question very open-ended. Because of that openness, I have a few other student reflections that go into different directions.  As for this week's reflection, it is interesting to note that "learning" was more about school and the nature of systematizing learning instead of truly what they learned.  For example, how the checklists were orientated or the group work with writing.

Furthermore, the student addressed what "worked" for them.  I love that the students were aware enough of their workflow and how best to tackle the tasks needed to be completed.  Even the student who had a different opinion of the checklists wrote more about the structures in place rather than the learning. I think students are cued into being compliant with tasks rather than what they are learning or why.  But maybe the "doing" is how they perceive learning.  Cal Newport has this quote from his book, Deep Work, that resonates with me and what I am thinking.





I am not sure the students know what is valuable to them. I think they want to be connected and have validation.  Because of this, they resort back to industrial metrics of visibility and compliance. They want to show me that they have "done" things and put in the effort and the writing on a daily basis and checklists do that.


I am not sure how to completely remove this thought or get at the value of learning rather than compliance.  A lot of what they are commenting on is related to the way we do school.  I want to get at the point where the students are valuing the conversations, the new understandings, or how to solve problems.  I am rethinking my language, task needed to be completed, and the entire grade book.  I need to communicate more with the reasoning behind everything and allow for more student agency and inquiry-based learning.  I need to get the students to find their voice in the process.






Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Reflections on Reading: What is our goal? What influences students?

By Kim Miklusak

Often we hear people bemoan a perceived or real decrease in sustained reading in our students.  Teachers express frustration that students don't read outside of class or are not reading at a level that teachers feel they should be at.

This year our Senior English students were doing independent reading choices for 20-60 minutes a week in class, and I know more classes have added this across all grades.  So as the Senior English teachers prepared for our Independent Reading Book Circles, I asked my students to do a brief journal entry on successes and barriers when it came to their reading.

In the words of Paulo Freire in Teachers as Cultural Workers: Letters to Those Who Dare to Teach, he says, "As a practical-theoretical context, the school cannot ignore the knowledge about what happens in the concrete contexts of its students and their families.  How can we understand students' difficulties during the process of becoming literate without knowing what happens in their experiences at home or how much contact they have with written words in their sociocultural context?"

I want to share some of their responses here.  They certainly caused me to step back and reflect as we set our goals and targets for our unit: was our goal a quiz at the end?  Was our goal just to finish a book?  Was our goal to inspire a love of reading?  In the end our goal was to have sustained dialogue about a reading both within one book circle and across books.





Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Year in AP: Teaching is Getting in the Way of Learning (Week Thirty-one)

By Mark Heintz

Context

I have two main focuses as I write this weekly blog. Two driving questions that I have in my mind while making decisions.  They are:
  • How do I know if my students know? 
  • How do I get them to know if they know?  
Whether that is a skill or content, I want to know if they know it.   I no longer think it is acceptable for me to guess or get a feeling on whether or not they know it. Getting the students to know if they know it is downright hard, but I am really attempting to get to a point where the students can recognize their understandings or progress on their skill levels and content knowledge.  Therefore, the purpose of this year of reflection is to see how I make progress towards these two goals and elicit feedback from staff, students, and hopefully people who follow along on the journey.  You can read how last week went here.

Week Thirty-one: Answer the Question

This week the content focus was primarily on the development of modern-day China. Here were the standards for this week:
  1. Identify one country and explain how they promoted economic development in the post-Cold War era.
  2. Compare and contrast how communist states of the Soviet Union and China controlled their national economies.
This week's skill focus was still centered on analyzing charts, maps, and texts and pulling evidence from documents to support a claim.
  1. Write one cause/effect, and one comparative short response that reflects an understanding of essential content.
  2. Analyze charts, maps, graphs, and texts.
  3. Write a thesis statement, contextualize a prompt, and draw evidence from two documents to support the thesis.  
Cite Specific Evidence

First, how do I know that the students know the content and how to do the skills?



To focus on the content objective, I used thirty, small cards with a single vocabulary word on each one from the 1950's - present.  I used them several days in a row.  One of the days, the students sorted the words by AP theme.  After they sorted the cards, they picked an AP theme and wrote how each of those terms they placed in the category could be used to define the twentieth century.

DBQ

The rest of the week was centered on the document based question. To target the DBQ, I used the 2014 document-based question.  Here is the prompt:


The writing focused the students' ability to construct a body paragraph.  I asked the students to write two different paragraphs on the relationship between Chinese peasants and the Chinese Communist Party.  The goal at this point in the school year was to have the students bring in outside information into the argument.  To help students incorporate outside evidence into the writing, I gave the students some sentence starters.


Bringing in outside evidence is incredibly difficult and very few students were able to do it. Here is an example of one of the students writing.  Despite their difficulties, they are amazing at drawing alpacas! 



In the next example, there is evidence of the students linking documents together. 


Students self and peer reflected on their writing in a google doc that contained a writing rubric.  After they wrote, they self-evaluated on the points they thought they earned.  Then, they gave it to a peer to check their work.  Finally, I checked their work.



Explain the Evidence

I love the manipulatives!  They are such a great resource to have.  Once you cut them up, they are so versatile.  It is a way to get students up and moving.  It is a quick check on what they know for them and for me.  I love them and I use them as often as I can.

On to the writing.


I struggled with this week and that is part of the problem.  I had a lot of teacher agency.  I wanted to give the students more time to work on their product and writing.  However, I kept interrupting their progress to show examples and direct their learning.  Let me give you an example.  I had set up one day of class to have the students work on a paragraph.  I gave them about thirty minutes of class to work on it.  I was walking around the room and answering student questions.  Students were giving feedback.  It was great until I got involved.

I noticed a few examples of student writing and I wanted to share them with the class.  I had the student AirPlay the sample and then the class analyzed the writing.  This was the problem.  Displaying the student sample when others were working on their writing undermined their progress and process.  It became more about me sharing a sample and then students mimicking that example rather then them working on their process.

I did this three days in a row to differing degrees.  The "teaching" got in the way of the learning.

My Reflection and Impact


I am glad I had this time to reflect.  I am not sure if I would have noticed what I was doing if I did not write this blog.  The students love examples.  I love examples.  However, that wasn't the point of the day.  I wish I would have had all the students finish their writing and then share examples.   As bad it is my sound, I need to stay out of it sometimes.  I definitely need to let the students find their process and find their voice.  They need to have the process allow for them to help craft their identity.  Furthermore, the writing process and a DBQ is a venture into inquiry learning.   A DBQ offers so many different directions to answer the question.  But to allow inquiry learning to take place I need to them the student explore.

Next steps:  I need to let learners learn.  I need to create conditions that maximize learning and then let them go.  That is going to be focus for the reminder of the year. 

Read next weeks here.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

A Year in AP: What Grade Have I Earned? (Week Thirty)

By Mark Heintz


Context

I have two main focuses as I write this weekly blog. Two driving questions that I have in my mind while making decisions.  They are:
  • How do I know if my students know? 
  • How do I get them to know if they know?  
Whether that is a skill or content, I want to know if they know it.   I no longer think it is acceptable for me to guess or get a feeling on whether or not they know it. Getting the students to know if they know it is downright hard, but I am really attempting to get to a point where the students can recognize their understandings or progress on their skill levels and content knowledge.  Therefore, the purpose of this year of reflection is to see how I make progress towards these two goals and elicit feedback from staff, students, and hopefully people who follow along on the journey.  You can read how last week went here.

Week Thirty: Answer the Question

This week I am going to take a break from the usual format.
Provide Specific Evidence: 

The quarter just ended and I have only a few weeks left in the semester.  At this point, I wanted to get a feel for how the students felt they were progressing.

I was inspired by Jesse Stommel's post on how he has not graded in the past seventeen years.  You can read his post here.  I feel that I am in a similar mindset as Jesse in regards to grades.  I have written about how grades have hurt some of my student's mentality.  The grade changed the narrative of course for them and altered their perception of their progress.  Using grades as a baseline and to determine their perception of what went into a grade,  I wanted to know what they felt was going well for them and what they valued as a student.

To gather data, I posted a Google form that asked the students to state what their current grade is, what grade they felt they have earned, and explain why they earned the grade they selected. I was amazed at the honesty in their responses.  There were quite a few students who gave themselves a lower score and some of their responses really made me think about the year.  

Here is what some of the students had to say.

Pete

So far this semester I've been very productive with my checklists and participating during class, which I think in particular has been a strength that has helped me understand some confusing topics throughout history. Occasionally I slack off, but I don't think I'm alone in that aspect. Currently, my grade reflects my assessment scores, which I know I can improve during our next testing. Helping others with their studies also bolsters my understanding of many of the subjects, simply because I go through once more whatever topic is at hand. I believe that at times I can focus a bit better, but as long as I continue being successful with my checklists and participating in class, I will be able to earn and prove why I deserve an A in this class.

Me

I feel that Pete's assessment of his semester is what a teacher would hope for.  He has a good sense of what he needs to work on and has a few minor suggestions for himself. I love how he blends traditional metrics of success while connecting his learning to helping others.

Rabia

I feel like I have earned this grade (B) because I know my content and how to write my DBQ and short answers but I’m a bad test taker. The checklists I do complete but the reviews from last semester were very challenging and some of the videos do not help. I have completed all of the current checklists from this semester on time. I do struggle with the content but I know enough of it to be able to complete my work. It may seem as if I don’t put in the effort when it comes to those old checklists I do try very much so but it gives me a lot of anxiety with the fact they are timed and how far back some of the questions go. I try to complete all of the inside and outside work of class to the best of my ability

Me

I have been questioning how to make the checklists a lot easier.  Some of the content reviews in the checklists get long and most of it very specific.  The older checklists make it so the students can't see the forest for the trees. I need to come up with a different plan to get the students to keep going back to the older content.  I want to make changes to the process because the students feel that I don't think they put in the effort when I knew they do!  Schoology enables me to I see how long they spend on the quizzes and some of them spend an enormous amount of time on each quiz.  I want to give them successful ways of moving forward while spending less time doing it.

Also, Rabia is not the only student to highlight that they are a bad test taker.  There is a lot of pressure put on these students centered around the tests.  Some of that anxiety translates into poor performance on something they know and I know they can do.  It frustrates me and I am constantly looking for ways to de-stress them.

Brandon

(Current grade D, stated he has earned a C) Checklists were unfinished. Did not ask for help. Other classes to worry about. Not the most intelligent student. Stress. Sports. Other classes add on. Hard to stay on track after other work. Tired. Sleep schedule ruined. Sleep. Hungry. Need more time in a day. More studying.


Me

I love his honesty. I agree with him that shouldn't have a D.  He has a lot of other interests outside of AP and he does complete almost everything I ask him.  He needs sleep.  When he is not too tired, he is great in class. His writing has improved tremendously this year and he is able to make connections to material across time.  I need to find a way to increase student agency in a course that is very rigid.

Joanna

I think I deserve a C because I don't try as hard as I should in and out of class. I feel like I'm behind on a lot of information that my classmates know and I don't know how to catch myself back up. I go into tests thinking I'll do poorly which leads me to not try very hard in the first place. I basically set myself up for failure because I've given up on my grade in the class. I got a two on the AP test last year so I'm not that worried about this year which also isn't a good mindset.

Me

I am disappointed in myself for her feelings.  She is a great person and has had a few bumps in the road, which this course is very unforgiving in.  I hate how a score on a test makes someone feel inferior.  Currently, most people validate themselves with external metrics of success.  I wish the pressure wasn't so intense and that grades were not that important.  Furthermore, I wish that it could be more about learning and helping students to find their passion or interest.  I know she has a lot to offer and does amazing work, yet the curent way of me doing things does not always reward that.

Elle

I think I deserve a B because I contribute a lot of thoughts to class and although I'm not always right, I always bring forth my best effort and try as hard as I can. I also believe that while I try my best on tests and responses, I think class work and discussions should be counted for a grade as well even if it's small.  I also know that I get distracted a lot but that doesn't really inhibit my learning experience because I usually get back to my work fast. I realize that I have to turn in my assignments on time but overall I do think that a B in the class would best reflect my efforts and general knowledge of the class.

Me

A recurring comment I read was how they are distracted.    must be harping on them to stay attentive in class.  I feel that the students are almost always on task and I am really proud of them.  It is interesting to read how they want more class work to count in the grade book.  I have never done that and I am not sure if it would get the effect they want.

Reflection and Impact:

First, I need to frequently tell my students I care about their well being and how amazing they are.  They put enormous amounts of time in accomplishing tasks for the course, I just want them to know that I see their time commitment.

Next steps
: I want to ask students more frequently to assess their ability. Start earlier in the year.  Ideally, I like the idea of me not assigning the final grade, but rather the students doing it. Alsa, I am not there yet. I want students to be reflective and give me insight on what they need and what I am doing that creates conditions to help them.  I am going to ask them the same question again before the semester ends and I hope they view themselves better.  I was happy to read their insights and feedback on the process.  I am glad I did it and looking forward to seeing what it will look like next year when I start the process earlier.

Read week thiry-one here. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Learning Moment at Elk Grove

By Mark Heintz

How do we define learning at Elk Grove? 

Schools are centers of learning.  Each day, the people who walk through the halls of Elk Grove learn, connect with others, and share.  However, much of the learning that takes places goes undocumented; it is not document or shared.  As a community, let us take a moment and connect with one such learning moment in hopes to share a common vision of learning and grow together.  



If you have a learning moment you would like to share with the larger community at Elk Grove, email your request to Mark.Heintz@d214.org