It Seemed to Work

I had, at least from my point of view, a pretty satisfying class the other night. I teach a 7:00PM – 9:40PM class for career switchers through the School of Continuing Studies at the University of Richmond. The focus on the class is technology integration and I end up with a really wide range of ages, experiences, and technology skills. So you can imagine how excited people are to work their normal jobs and then come into a nice 3 hour night class. Sometimes things go well, sometimes they go poorly. Here’s something that seemed to work well last Wednesday. Step One- I started off the class with some audio clips from student interviews. It was some good stuff (content wise- even if the audio quality was pretty poor). The students were saying things about how all they do is take notes and take tests. They complained of boredom etc. etc. I figured that would get their attention because no one wants to be thought of that way- especially if you haven’t started teaching yet. Step Two-I had a Google form for them to use. The task was just to list the things you’d like students to say about your class if they were interviewed. This form was embedded in the post I use each class to organize the material […]

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Plague: Romeo & Juliet Poster

How do you make people want to know more before you start a topic1? I liked this whole series done for Science World by Rethink Communications. Think of this idea as visual pre-reading. The posters get you curious. Curiosity is good. I’d like to make a series before starting novels and post them around the room. It’d work nicely for history as well. The key, in both cases, is to focus on what would capture the interest of your students and make a strong connection to something they do like and understand2. It’s likely you and your English teacher friends are not like most people. You’re going to like oblique references to Kafka- your students, not so much. Remember to think about things normal people like. This is another reason it’s good to know your students and to pay attention to the many realms outside of education. A quick mock up of a poster for Romeo and Juliet. Rationale – Remember this isn’t meant to strictly portray what happens in the play but to get students curious and interested in what might happen. The line has been beaten to death but it seemed like portraying it more literally and with a dystopian-future twist would capture some attention. It also has a chance to resonate because of all the terrorism and […]

This is a bent paperclip on a green background. It is awesome.

Modernist Posters

When it rains, it pours snows people panic and Richmond shuts down. Also when I find one good thing on the Internet, others often show up. So here are minimalist TV show posters by Albert Exergian. I’d do this for sure. It’s another in the line of restriction = creativity possibilities. The drawing skills are really low. It’s all about figuring out the essence of the novel/era/historical person and figuring out how to represent it as simply as possible. You’d have to stress what makes things modernist and really get students thinking about using color, shape etc. with as much thought as possible. The example would be key, as would your explanation of it1. I ended up with this from one of the few email newsletters I find worth subscribing to – Very Short List. If you like this type of thing, it’s worth checking out. 1

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6 Frame Comic Summaries

We’re asking you to take your favourite film and re-imagine it for us in the form of a comic, within a six-frame panel (download template files). That’s the whole film, condensed into six frames. This is another beautiful, reductionist way to analyze a book, historical figure, era, epoch or movement. I don’t see much use for math but I could also see some science possibilities. You could pair up with an art teacher or just do it on your own. I’d have a stable of activities1 similar to these and allow students the option to choose between them at various points. Keep in mind, they don’t have to be drawn. Let them use photographs. They could even take their own pictures. The concept/framework is simple but don’t let it box you in. This is the stuff I really like in history and English. It’s low work on the teacher, high processing on the students. Deciding what elements are essential is a task that requires a lot of understanding and critical thinking, then representing those ideas graphically is another level of processing. I’m working on a history example but it’s taking too much time (and thought) to do well immediately. 1 Of the condense and remix type. I’ve posted a few in the past.

Snow Days Don’t Stop Assessment

This wouldn’t be worth of mocking except for the fact that it was retweeted time and time again by the Blackboard Twitter fanboy crowd and when I finally read it I couldn’t get the taste of bile out of my mouth. This is the garbage they celebrate as a success. So the following post is an attempt at purging my system. Original article here. Italics and footnotes, as always, are mine. ____________________________________________________________________________________________ The snow led to more than 300 local closings and delays today — but if a district uses too many snow days, there’s less time to test. No one wants that. One local school figured out a way to have the best of both worlds -students at home *and*1 a full day of testing. Joe Webb says it works through technology -insert dramatic music here. The kids at Taft Elementary will lose a day of class because they’re at home. McAuley High School has figured out a way to reach out to its students and have them in class at home. At Beechwood Elementary, Miss Burns’ fourth grade class beat the elements and had a school not a snow day. But in 2010 this is truly old school.2 McAuley sophomore Sam Rack kicked it new school3 today at home but taking all her regular classes online. It counts […]