I have two main focuses as I write this weekly blog. Two driving questions that I have in my mind while making decisions. They are:
- How do I know if my students know?
- How do I get them to know if they know?
Whether that is a skill or content, I want to know if they know it. I no longer think it is acceptable for me to guess or get a feeling on whether or not they know it. Getting the students to know if they know it is downright hard, but I am really attempting to get to a point where the students can recognize their understandings or progress on their skill levels and content knowledge. Therefore, the purpose of this year of reflection is to see how I make progress towards these two goals and elicit feedback from staff, students, and hopefully people who follow along on the journey. You can read how last week went here.
Week Twenty-eight: Answer the Question
This week the content focus was primarily on World War I. Here were the standards for this week:
- Understand the causes of World War I.
This week’s skill focus was still centered on analyzing charts, maps, and texts and pulling evidence from documents to support a claim.
- Write one cause/effect, and one comparative short response that reflects an understanding of essential content.
- Analyze charts, maps, graphs, and texts.
- Write a thesis statement, contextualize a prompt, and draw evidence from two documents to support the thesis.
This semester, I am including, or trying to include student’s perspective on the week. Last week, I had a rough teaching moment that led me to a provocation. Why am I not involving students in the lesson planning? Why are they not an integral part of the process? So, I asked my students if they would help me plan the whole week. The students helped me plan. I asked my class if any of them were available later in the day to meet with me to help plan the week. It was awesome! I was meeting students directly with what they needed. Here is a little bit of what they had to say.
I received the best insights of my career from the students in that planning session. As a whole, the students were more engaged in the lessons. I attribute that to planning with the students. As I type that statement, I realize that is such a no-brainer comment. Of course students would be more engaged if they planned it! I feel like it puts the students and me on a level of mutual understanding and respect. I am there to help them and they are there to help me. I want the school to be engaging and create a set of conditions that maximize learning. I feel that planning with the students creates conditions that encourage learning.
I have decided to take a few moments next week to include the entire class in the lesson planning process. It will use class time, but I am hopeful that it will maximize the rest of the week. Eliciting feedback from the students reminded me of how great my students are. Furthermore, I have been teaching this course for ten years, and I am still learning. There is so much to learn and the students are going to help me learn more than I will them.