Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Final Reflections on Several Things

Post-Reading Workshop
  • Having the carts with pre-selected books had its pros and cons. Kids didn't have any excuses to forget their book = pro. Certain books were in high demand and we had no more = bad. Kids rarely switched books = good.
  • Our original intent of the workshop was to mainly read non-fiction, but as we began selecting books we got nervous that we didn't have enough titles so we threw in some fiction. I would say in the end, the fiction outnumbered the non-fiction. Additionally the majority of kids were more attracted to the fiction we provided. I believe this is mainly due to the fact that the scant non-fiction we offered were older and had unappealing titles. In hindsight, I wonder if we should have limited the choices to biographies and autobiographies...
  • Conferring never improved. There were several things Julie did that I wished I had tried. Things that I felt would be no-nos, she had great success with. For instance, I was taught that when you confer, it should happen where the student is working, not where the teacher works. So I faithfully made my way around the classroom and squatted or knelt for each conference. Only later did I find out that Julie was inviting kids to her desk. Her kids felt safe and were eager to share, unlike the majority of mine who appeared apprehensive and timid.
  • Some of the same issues that have plagued my reading workshops in the past persisted in this one as well. The "smart" kids don't feel like they improve or learn anything new and my lowest kids aren't successful for an array of reasons (sleeping, switching books a lot, etc.)


Next year I will:

  • set up a strict timeline and have daily checkpoints.
  • ask kids ahead of time to rate their artistic ability and then evenly distribute them amongst the groups.
  • go back to including the pre-writing page (before the draw a rough draft).
  • have the kids write more during the process.
  • connect the process to the design cycle more.

Post-Saving the Planets PP Slides

  • Overall I think this project went GREAT! I loved it and we improved on what we did last year. I was also thrilled to notice all the other great skills we were covering unintentionally, like main idea and supporting details, research, paraphrasing and tech skills like using the notes section of PP and the shadow function on text to make it stand out more against the background.
  • Saving as jpgs and then having a student compile all the slides into one presentation went beautifully. Kids loved seeing their slides on the scroll.
  • Items to add to rubric and instruction: uncluttered slide (text, graphics, rule of 8, spacing, size and placement); choice of graphic makes sense; helpful fact (not just stating the obvious, correct grammar, spelling and punctuation); one sentence only (review compound and complex sentences); one graphic only; research is paraphrased in their own words.
  • Things I'd like to incorporate more for next year: command (sentences), The Story of Stuff, clip from King Corn and other eco-movies, persuasive techniques (esp. logos, ethos, pathos in TAG), Joni Mitchell song
  • Four days was the perfect amount of time to complete.

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