Monday, November 30, 2009

Examining the "Work" Day

Since my last post, a description of a two-part free-choice reading final paper and project, my class has had two structured work days and one day of presentations (no homework over the holiday weekend)! My office partner and I were jokingly talking about the nature of project work days, how students often say, when asked about what they did in class, "oh nothing, we had a work day." Yet, these are the days that can actually be the most productive, in terms of individualized learning and formative assessment. I get to see where each student is in the process, how each student is chunking his/her work, where he/she is getting stuck and unstuck, etc. So I have a new attentive to these kinds of class sessions, and I invited my office partner, and fellow "Curriculum Resource Teacher" to visit on a work day (coincidentally).

He's visited my class one other time, that's how much context he has, in addition to our discussions of each others' classes. Here are some of the things that he noted and we debriefed:

1. Work days are based on a carefully scaffolded element of choice.

2. There has to be something that holds everybody together. In the case of my class: an exploration of textual themes using questioning and critical thinking.

3. There are more opportunities for significant interactions and observations, by students and teachers, during work days.

4. The high achievers are being individually challenged as appropriately as all other students in the class.

5. I highlighted some good project ideas. We wondered how these students felt about having their work highlighted. This kind of move demands the right kind of environment.

6. I had one-on-one face time with every student, a chance to discuss their projects.

7. Finally, we started pondering the number and nature of decisions made by teachers during one hour of class.

Mahalo Dan!

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