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Different levels

I liked this video. It goes directly to many of the conversations we have about levels of understanding.

It also goes to the question of how a kid can enter concepts that an expert does but in a different way. Possibly less sophisticated but definitely grappling with the same stuff.

Freedom question (again)

We’re in the descent towards the end of second quarter. There’s not a lot of traditional teaching I can do right now — we’ve done what’s necessary for them to do their projects, both CSpan and the individual piece — so it’s up to them to finish stuff. I’m coaching, cheerleading, and troubleshooting. I’m grading and I’m conferencing. I’m trying to be fair about who is playing too much and who is playing in a way that disrupts everybody else.

And I’m trying not to overreact when the teenagers start saying stuff because it’s hard to finish stuff. The blame cannons are in constant use: it’s Clapper’s fault, it’s ___
‘s fault, it’s the camera’s fault, it’s so-and-so’s fault.

So I wanted to start the day by asking about the freedom and flexibility they’ve earned.

“How are you taking advantage of the freedom offered at the Workshop School?”
“What do you struggle with most?”

Here’s what I wrote:
“There is a portion of students who are structuring their own time and finding ways to move projects along. They are using teachers and each other as resources to get things done. They see the time as an opportunity to set things up their own way to learn how they learn best. They understand their role in creating their wok and in making the community. They use as much of the time as possible.”

Struggles:
“When people get stuck, i.e., when they don’t know what to do. Do they go invisible or do they cause disruptions ?”
“When people disengage…”
“As a teacher, making sure that I’ve helped kids develop the tools necessary to handle freedom.”
“How much the model is built on kids making their own choices and I’m not always to overcome it when they don’t want to make decisions.”

The conversation focused on three areas:
comfortable: how does freedom help you stay comfortable?
choice: how does having a choice help move your work along?
changes: the school/the class can change to meet different needs.

Meaning:
“My best work usually comes from daily work at home or when it’s quiet enough in school so that I can get deep into my thoughts.” DW

Struggles:
“But what if there’s too much freedom and I get lost?” DC
“Focusing on things when I don’t understand; being interested especially when it’s boring.”
“I sometimes struggle to stay motivated/energzied when doing work that doesn’t immediately interest me. I think this is a byproduct of getting to do interesting work regularly — everything else is more boring.”
“One way I struggle with this freedom is that sometimes I lose track or get sidetracked since it’s my project and I’m not following a structure, I have to create a structure.

Do I make myself clear?

I had not seen a number of these websites:

www.checktext.org
http://countwordsworth.com/
editcentral.com
hemingwayapp.com: I haven’t downloaded this as a desktop app but it seems pretty helpful.
https://www.online-utility.org/ Lots of tools here.
http://readabilityformulas.com/

http://writersdiet.com/ I bet my students will like this interface.

Evans, Harold. Do I Make Myself Clear?: Why Writing Well Matters. (New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company, 2017.)

Community building going wrong? Right?

Every Thursday we play mafia. It’s a pretty good game.

Today I had to leave the room because a student was struggling. For thirty seconds.

I think the students then conspired to identify the mafia members and not accuse them in order to prolong the game, to slow down the work process. After all, it is the Thursday before the Holiday Break and the district has us going to work and school through tomorrow at 3:30PM.

It’s happening right now and I can’t really tell. But I think that’s what’s happening.

On the one hand, it’s the quietest I’ve ever heard this game. They’re actually deliberating and paying attention to the rules; it would be ironic that it takes the quest to prolong the game as a way of unifying the class. (I feel this way with my own children — I’m thrilled when they band together even when it’s in service of disagreeing with their parents.)

On the other hand, maybe the game has evolved to the point that who knows what the reality is.

Update: 9:29A They are clearly fillibustering. JY is extending this game in a way I didn’t see as possible. Dead brilliant.

The question of what role to play…

I had this brilliant Penn professor come through a couple of weeks ago. We were talking about the ways in which kids were approaching their CSpan films and then he was talking about how his students ought to approach my students as they approached their films.

He noted that he was putting on his “producer’s hat.”

I was thinking about this as we work through our films. In some ways, I’m the producer for these twenty-six documentaries. I’m helping kids frame them, gathering resources, trying to ask good questions, and pushing on spots I see as weaknesses. I think this is what producers do or at least some of what they do.

On great days, that’s what I feel like I’m doing. I do a bit of teaching — here’s something you all need to think about (transitions, framing a shot, invoking the Constitution) — but then I’m just traveling around talking to students about their films. As they see a need, I try to help them address it, as much as I can. It’s their work. I’m there to help.

On other days, though, it’s much harder. You can’t sit in that producer role when the director doesn’t want to work. You can’t make the film for them.

Article on soil quality

Here.

This is money:

On the other hand, carbon sequestration in soil and vegetation is an effective way to pull carbon from the atmosphere that in some ways is the opposite of geoengineering. Instead of overcoming nature, it reinforces it, promoting the propagation of plant life to return carbon to the soil that was there in the first place — until destructive agricultural practices prompted its release into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. That process started with the advent of agriculture about 10,000 years ago and accelerated over the last century as industrial farming and ranching rapidly expanded.