Friday, September 7, 2012

Week Two is Complete

Here are a few observations from the week.

1. Students want to WRITE BY NUMBER so that they don't have to think to write.
Now this isn't totally their fault. Our students have been taught to write 5 paragraph essays that follow the same pattern no matter what they are writing about. I approached multiple students this week and tried to break them free from the shackles of write by number. My attempts were met with responses like: "But I don't know how to write any other way," "You mean I have to use another way?" "Why were we taught this way then?" "But that's not on my outline," "It hurts my head to think of my own structure." We WILL get to the point of being comfortable with a pen and a thought. I love this challenge and seeing the students realize that they can write better than they have ever been expected to.

2. Students don't quite understand that teachers don't have to grade everything.
A student asked me today (after I followed her twitter account with my teacher account) "Are you going to grade me on my tweets?" Why would I grade tweets? Has anyone ever done that? We haven't used a back channel in class yet but why would I grade that anyway? I thought it was an interesting and telling question from an honest and suspicious student.

3. Students are the worst tweeters.
It has been said that alcohol gives people liquid courage, but I think that Twitter gives students uncommon and cowardly courage. Students would not use half of the phrases that they use on Twitter if the communication was face-to-face.

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I have also be thinking back to my middle school teaching days. Here are a couple of projects that I did which I would definitely do again if I found myself in the middle school classroom in my future.

1. Non-Profit Organization Project.
I had the students choose a non-profit that they liked. In groups of four, they created an advertising plan for the company. They were required to make an ad for TV, radio, a magazine, and a billboard. This was done after researching the company and coming up with an advertising purpose and target audience. We used video cameras and class presentation to reveal the advertisements. We had a lot of fun with it, and many of the "tough" students bought in.

2. Business Critique
The students chose a business that they had a problem with. After establishing an area where the company could improve and an area where the company was being effective, we learned the business letter model and began writing. I asked the school to provide stamps and then we sent them off. It was great to see the excitement that the kids exuded in anticipation of a response and the pride they had when a response came. Only 30-40% of the letters had responses, but it was a good lesson in learning that criticism doesn't always get handled so well.

So what are your favorite projects? What did you learn this week?

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