Saturday, October 25, 2014

Cyclical Thinking.

You may remember last weekend when the chore was to finish up the rubric for the SLO.  Odd as it may seem, I am standing firm and insisting that if I have to design my own task to prove my worth as a teacher, oh, and the accompanying rubric to quantify the success of my teaching abilities, I want to have the focus of that SLO deal with my actual JOB, and not the side-job (also known as Information Literacy class) that is less than 20% of my day to day schedule.    While I am not sure if I have firmed up an exact formula for measuring the metacognitive process in my students, I'm feeling a bit more secure about using the process as my SLO at all.

Data shows that gifted and talented kids aren't "growing" at a rate commensurate with their less-abled counterparts.  While it can be argued that there aren't enough higher-level thinking opportunities embedded in the common core standards, let alone the standardized tests measuring achievement and growth, it stands to reason that public education does NOT spend a lot of time focusing on the strategies associated with thinking.

As teachers, we spend a lot of time TELLING kids to think.  We also suggest that they STUDY.  Neither of these skills are particularly taught as direct instruction -- they're more of an aside that is offered as they close their notebooks after that all-important summarizing activity to bookend the learning from the day's lesson.     The reality is THINKING and STUDYING are not skills that are inherent in most teenagers.

This weekend I am combing, again, over PM#2  (aka Performance Measure #2) from my Themes in Lit classes.  In addition to the metacognitive responses, I added a "P.S." to the assignment.  "Please add a line that says I LIKE, I WISH.... about the current state of this class."

For me, this was a chance to get some feedback about the methods used during class time.  Last year we did a lot of Socratic discussion, largely student-led.  I have two sections of Themes in Lit each semester, and it seems that there is a high-verbal energy and a "mute" class each year.  Of course I try to teach the same content to both classes, but the nature of the course is that while the general road map that exists is the same, where we stop to peruse intricacies differs based upon student interest.

So imagine my surprise when one of the quietest students said "I wish we had more discussions like we did last year..."

Seriously?  MORE discussions?  This kid almost NEVER spoke without a prompt from me.  It was difficult for me to assess the level of involvement or engagement, and I struggled with grading discussions.  Here I am a year later, and the kid who seemed to be the least engaged in Socratic discussion is wishing that we had more discussions like we did last year....  "I know I didn't contribute much, but I learned a lot from listening to others", was the conclusion of the statement.

I need to think about it.  Or study something.  Somehow there is a way to make sense of this quandary.

Te@chthought had an interesting post yesterday by Terry Heick entitled "Ask Them What They Think, Then Listen".  Food for thought, this weekend, as I process what they think, and attempt to adjust next week's learning as a result of that feedback.

Thinking about thinking, about thinking.  There's going to be a diagram for this on the wall of my padded room.  I guarantee.