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Day 85: Writing is difficult
By Mark Heintz
Dec 17, 2019

Day 85

I need to explicitly cover more content in class. Students have told me this for years. This year, they have told me in their feedback for the creation of these posts. I have blogged several times this year about the difficulty of covering topics versus having them come to it on their own. I stated that I their thinking becomes very linear when I lecture. Additionally, history is diluted to a single narrative when I lecture; at least the way I do it. When I dedicate class time to lecture, there is less time to analyze, read, and write.

Yet, I want to listen to reflection and honor their voice.

I found middle ground…for now.

I started the year using thinking maps on a daily basis. My goal was to have students display their understandings of what they were researching visually. It would help them curate their understanding and I would be able to see their thinking. You can check out the thinking maps here.

As the year moved on, I gradually used them less and less. I started them back up last week. As the students learn from analyzing documents and reading each other’s work, they add to their thinking map on the subject.

Student Created

A student created this above visual map. The students read several different documents and from that information, she created this framework. To honor their voice, when I “cover” content in class, I have a student Airplay their visual map and I ask a few questions.

  1. Where can we add to this framework?
  2. Can we question the validity of what is written down now that we have learned more?
  3. Can we apply what we learned to other areas or times in history?

The students are still reading, writing, and analyzing at the same rates; only now, they have a place to house their learning. As an additional bonus, I’m not creating a worksheet for everything we cover nor am I lecturing. Every student is still coming up with their own understanding. They are similar, but not the same. I’m not having students fill in boxes or limiting the perspectives we read. After we read from a new source, I’m giving the students time to rework their understandings of the topic.

I’m happy for now.