Saturday, December 27, 2008

"Prepare to be amazed . . ."

My family is having the good fortune of visiting Cozumel, Mexico, this Christmas and working with the children at Ciudad de Angeles. My daughter has been on a mission trip to work with the kids 4 times in the past 6 years. As we were preparing for our trip, my daughter said, "Prepare to be amazed and know your life will never be the same." Wow, that's quite a statement!

It got me to thinking. What if we were able to say this to each of our students at least once a school year? Wouldn't it be great if each of our students could point to even just one thing each year and say that it truly changed his/her life? I know this may sound a little idealistic but wouldn't it be nice if education could be that meaningful? Just a thought.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Getting Students to Think Could Mean Asking Them What They Think

Most of the teachers I know would tell you quickly that they want their students to think about the content. This is something that I have as a goal as well. I told a colleague just this week that I would love to have a classroom full of thinkers. There is a poster that I put up in my classroom that simply says, "Ready, Set, Think!" But do I really mean that?

As I was observing my students write collaborative stories this week, a "light-bulb" moment occurred. In order to reach the upper levels of Bloom's Taxonomy of synthesize, evaluate and create, we might have to ask the students what they think.

Now, as someone who has actually asked this question to 6th graders before, I know that you have to be prepared for literally any answer. Asking "what do you think" opens the door to 6th grade reasoning, goals and dreams. If you listen closely to the answer, though, I guarantee you will learn more about the student than you could otherwise.

As scary as the proposition of their potential answers might be if I truly want engaged learning going on in my classroom, I'm convinced at this point that this question needs to be at the center of everything we do. The goals of engaged learning, higher-order thinking, and student ownership could all be connected to this question. 

So, in the interest of life-long learning, what do you think?

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