Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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[Teacher-talklearning] workshop #7: Learning from others

From: Randi K <zenway01_at_gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 9 Apr 2012 10:18:56 -0500

I particularly enjoyed the example of the fifth grade classroom. In this
example, students researched, designed and constructed a butterfly garden.
The teacher created a “social system” in which students assisted each other
while she assists them. Part of the reason that the butterfly garden in the
example of this class was so effective was that the teacher spent time on
the front end of the activity, defining the structure and the objective of
the lesson. So, when students tended to get bogged down in interesting but
not directly relevant information, she could gently remind them of their
objective and the class agreements around what they would focus on. For
example, prior to beginning the garden, instead of writing down their
answers, teacher wrote down their questions before they started out and
finding the answers to those questions became their challenge.

Students still need guidelines around how the collaboration will look. It
is possible to create an authentic collaborative experience and still make
sure that everyone is kept safe and that the environment is conducive to
taking risks. A perfect example of this is Socratic seminars, where
students generate questions around texts and then dialogue (as opposed to
debating) to exchange ideas. They challenge each other’s ideas within
certain parameters. The example of the high school classroom discussion
around institutionalized racism reinforced what I have noticed about this.
The teacher repeatedly returned to the challenges of leading a
collaborating dialogue around emotional issues; namely, students all want
to talk at once, trying to remind them of respectful behaviors when they
all want to respond from places of emotion.

Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants
happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do
other creatures.
Dalai Lama*
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Received on Mon Apr 09 2012 - 12:25:56 EDT


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