We are now into the third week of school and I feel that this is the best start to a school year in my career. I’m working with amazing colleagues, I have awesome students, and I am living out many aspects of my pedagogical beliefs.
I am also learning. This is the first year I’m using the inquiry method as a main teaching strategy and I love it! It allows me to differentiate on a deeper level as well as watch the connections my students are drawing from our class and the world around them.
I am collaborating quite closely with my colleague, Scott Kemp (@kempscott) on the grade ten applied English course and we are implementing a strategy that Scott observed in a kindergarten presentation he saw last year at the WRDSB Learning Symposium. The kindergarten teachers were using “provocation” as a means of directing where the learning goes. We have translated it to our 2p classes and it has been such a great method!
We are creating a weekly theme that we are working from and using some kind of “shock” strategy to engage them and make them think. Last week my students took the idea of what we share online (by analyzing my some of my social media profiles) and connected that with the human need for attention. My role was to help facilitate the learning and thinking but the ideas all came from the students.
This week we are thinking about privacy online and the idea of who is tracking us and after watching a Ted Talk from the founder of Mozilla, we used the Chrome Extension, Disconnect, to show the students how many sites are following our every move online. They were shocked and kind of creeped out that the Huffington Post website sent 38 sites after us, but had their jaws on the floor when after visiting the Toronto Sun website, over 100 were trying to follow our online activity. It was incredible to watch some of their reactions. From there, we created a list of research questions that we will further refine tomorrow and then they will be heading onto to the web where they will be looking for answers to our question(s). We will then be reflecting on their research and considering their learning skills.
In reflecting on the last two weeks, I have made the following observations:
– the learning is relevant to their lives (I’m sure some of them went from my class to lunch today and talked about this with their peers)
– the learning is student directed
– I am coaching them -> helping with creating deep and meaningful questions, encouraging them to think critically, helping them enhance their researching skills, and working one on one with each student every day on some aspect of his or her tasks
– we are spending a lot of time thinking about our learning
– we are reflecting (a major aspect of the English curriculum)
– I always have a plan, but I don’t always know how we are going to get to our final destination. It’s truly been a method where I have relinquished control and although many teachers find that frightening, I find it invigorating. We are learning together and I love seeing my students reach the goals I set for them and as is the case in the last two weeks, really impress me with their abilities to think critically and make connections with the world in which they live.
It is truly exciting 🙂