A gentle reminder ...

The goal of this blog initially was for Mr. Mc to show his students and friends what he doing while in Pennsylvania and DC in 2011. Now it's being used as a place for him, travelling colleagues and former students to discuss edumacation and history related "stuff" as well as ... well, anything which pops into his head. Mr. Mc would never knowingly embarrass either the school he loves or the family he is devoted to. By joining in the discussion, he expects the same of you.

Monday, May 20, 2013

"...don't be surprised if they start to fidgit."

This is the part of summer where potential outweighs actual. My classroom is clean and quiet and I spend a few hours each day playing with what 'could be' for next year. This summer's Big Hairy Audacious Goal: Change how I've been doing things in a fundamental way. As the summer barrels forward, the potential because actual--either it makes its way into the curriculum or it doesn't. By
August, the reality of students in a couple weeks requires fine tuning, not major overhaul. But now is the time for dreaming big.

This summers big dream:
  • Spend three quarters teaching American History, not two.
  • Spend one quarter teaching Civics not as a US Government class but as a Civics Laboratory
What this means in reality:
  • Fold my econ module into American History... tie it to historical events rather than as a stand alone entity.
  • Completely changing the research portion of the class. This is a big deal in my world. Almost everything I do has a connection to research. By lengthening the American History module, all of the projects and assessments have to change as a result.
  • Fully integrate oratory and art into the classroom experience. I have been playing with some ideas for speeches and speech-writing as well as figuring out how to make the classroom move visual and interactive.
In addition, I keep playing with an idea that has been rattling around in my head for some time. What would happen if students picked the type of assessment for a particular unit. Paper Test. Project. Presentation. Paper. I have a pretty varied assessment model but they all do the same thing at the same time. What if I let them choose and then graded them accordingly? I normally have eight big assessments each year. If I required them to do at least one paper, one paper test, one presentation and one project and then let them pick the method for the other four... I'm still figuring this one out but I want to let them focus on their strengths at the same time challenging them to explore areas where either they don't have a lot of experience or feel weak in.

Part of this impetus for change comes from remarks by Sir Ken Robinson in the video above. Some highlights:
  • Students are naturally different and diverse--science and math are important but not sufficient, "a real education has to give equal weight to the arts, humanities, physical education..."
  • Curiosity-if you can lighten the spark ... children are natural learners. Curiosity is the engine of achievement.
  • School level control--education doesn't go on in the committee rooms or legislative halls but in the classroom...
At the end of the speech he says something that has me thinking about my role as an educator. He talks about leadership in the Command and Control form. The real role is in Climate Control. He is speaking administratively but I think it applies to classroom leadership as well. Instead being teacher-boos of all things; if I create a climate where there is different, curious and student-owned learning going on, then Death Valley gets rain and the ground gets carpeted with little flowers.

I'm excited to see where potential takes me this summer.

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