Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reflection is the key

As more and more blog posts accumulate during my trek through the blogosphere with this class, I am taking time to reflect on how the process is going and what purposes it is serving. Feedback has been quite good overall, from students, parents and teachers alike. I even have some friends from my MUN Education class who read it on occasion and give me some great feedback about other sites, resources and ideas I should use and share. It has also been a great way to share information and ideas with other teachers in this school and beyond.

I'm happy to say that the blog has gotten more than 1,000 pageviews per month so far, and that this is increasing. We have regular and occasional readers from 10 different countries, and redirects from the BCE website, Ask.com, Google, Facebook and many others every week. I think that the next step is to have students contribute more to the blog, and perhaps to establish a parallel French-language blog that would have more of its content driven by student input and would cater to other students/teachers/administrators in Canada and elsewhere. This will not happen immediately, but I would be curious to know what you think.

Yesterday I sent home cards with a spelling word on them for each student to define and state in a sentence, which was quite successful. They presented their words, and we posted them in class. This was a well-received activity, after which they used these words in many activities throughout the day. We also discussed the class's collective family military history, which ranged from current Peacekeepers, Reservists and Combat Medics to decorated heroes from the 1st and 2nd World Wars.

Continuing on this theme, we combined our French and Social Studies classes to spend an hour or so working on an activity. I highlighted the idea of empathy, and trying to understand why people do things and how these things affect them and their communities. Students compared stories and experiences that they had collected, in an activity that kept them busy until lunchtime. It was very productive, and will be used for a big Art project next week.
In Religion class we read a story about "Welcoming Ceremonies", in the context of several major religions. We talked about ceremonies in the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths, then extrapolated the idea to include other such ceremonies we have. This included weddings, Kindergarten graduations and even funerals. This activity spawned a discussion about how feeling included was important to avoid feeling alienated, as often happens to people who sometimes end up living a life of crime, poverty, etc.

It was a day of grand ideas, and some giant steps in our curriculum outcomes as well. Maybe it's just the sugar, but I feel as though this will be a great week. Before I finish up with a few notes on evaluation and the upcoming Reporting period, here are the other two videos the class made last week. The first explains that it is good to have friends when you need to tell a secret, and the second talks about the advantages of having friends when you plan to go travelling.

The reporting period starts soon, and scheduling for parent-teacher appointments will open up as well. This will be a great chance to review how things are going so far, but I also plan to do some "pre-emptive review" as well. I will meet with each student next week to discuss their portfolio of work so far, and set some goals for next semester. I don't want marks to be a surprise at all, and I plan to be very candid with them. We have already discussed all of our rubrics and expectations openly, even going as far as to dissect a report card to see what was being evaluated.

The idea of "Learning through Evaluation" is not new, but I think it can be a great way for students to take ownership of their education experiences and truly drive themselves to achieve their highest potential.

I don't have a link for today (besides the videos), but  I would suggest referring to "Grade 4 Math Practice" in the blog sidebar to help with the ongoing Math review. As the class already knows, the math sheets don't need to be completed until next Monday. One last note would be that November schedules went home today.

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