Today several things came together to make for a professionally rewarding day. I felt that the students had enjoyed their lesson and that they had learnt something. At our school we have a section on the staff intranet which is called strategy of the week where teachers can read examples of interesting teaching practices put up by our Teaching and Learning Coordinator. Of course he doesn’t have to think of them all himself as teachers who try something will often email him with ideas. But this strategy did come from him. He calls it Blockwords. It can be done to open the lesson at any year level and with any subject area. The teacher chooses a word and writes it in big letters across the board. Today with my writing class I wrote METACOGNITION. We talk about the meaning of the word (sometimes breaking it down into component parts) until the students get the idea. Then students suggest words that use one of the letters in the main word that are associated with it. This is what we came up with: words like imagination, thinking, educate, organised, searching, ingenious etc until we had thirteen words that were in some way associated and illustrative of the theme of metacognition. Then I gave them their task sheet for their poetry anthology. I left the area where I would have put the Criteria for Assessment blank. This was so the students could come up with their own criteria of how I would assess and grade their anthologies. I asked them to think of some criteria for the categories of “the product” and also for the process of creating their anthology. After a few minutes they joined up with another student to discuss what they had come up with and then two pairs joined up. At this point each group was to come to consensus on what they thought the three most important criteria in each category were. We wrote them on the board and then discussed them as a class to come up with an agreed set. This took one period. For the second period we went to a computer room where I helped them set up a blog each on edublog, James Farmer’s “free education blogs for anyone who darn well wants them.” I explained they were to use the blogs to reflect on their process of making their poetry anthology. This is an example of what one student did. Jessie’s blog is simply called “Reflecting”. I’m looking forward to continuing this process with the students and developing the whole concept some more.
In another class I was able to think about student produced resources on the novel, Animal Farm. This came about from an idea I got from a fellow blogger nb who, as a way to help students get their heads around a (different) text got them to collaborate in groups of two or three to make a study guide for one chapter per group. These were then collated. It is not the final product so much as the process the students go through that nb found was so valuable for the students.
It has been a good day at the chalkface for me and, I hope, for my students (and nary a piece of chalk in sight).