Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Toward the CBL Solution

It was great talking to groups about their plans for the "solution" to their project challenge. I heard some great ideas! But when I looked at the docs afterward, there was a lack of concrete planning in some groups. "Who will do what, when?" I had asked each group to decide and document.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Progress on the Projects

Some of my groups have been at work, and when I put out the rubric, that was a little kickstart in some places. But not all. Today there was some consternation at the mention of a deadline tomorrow, with a couple of students acting as if they had no idea what was going on. This despite the fact that it's all been out there in writing and I've given reminders in class.

But tonight I went to my Google docs and saw every single document title bold, indicating work has been done. I'll wait until after the deadline to see what they've been up to.

Tomorrow they will have class time to plan for their solution.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cross-school challenge based learning

There's lots happening in our school regarding the implementation of challenge based learning projects. At a recent in-service day, eight challenges were presented by various teachers passionate about certain ideas, and anyone was free to latch onto any project. The result? Several cross-school (the term we seem to be favoring over "inter-departmental") challenges in the works, with teams that include even non-teaching staff. And so it is that math teachers are working with social studies teachers on a project about what makes a good leader, and an English teacher is leading the charge to challenge students to learn more in depth about the psychological effects of abortion.

Our department is still hanging together with our original idea about connecting the teachings of Jesus to the 21st century, but some of us will also have a piece of the action in some other groups. One group is inspired by a recently published book by John Gallagher, Reimagining Detroit. It seems to me that my Justice and Peace project could find a good focus there, and best of all, I'd benefit from the expertise of many colleagues in the development of something for my class.

Yep, the media center where we all met was abuzz with ideas and questions that day.

Dyknow again

Some students are not that thrilled with Dyknow, but some like it. At any rate, I decided to continue with notes for the current chapter so that students will have them in one place. I have experimented with writing notes for them as I talked, and writing notes that they could not see projected but not on their own screens, forcing them to copy as when I write on the board. I also had some slides with blanks that they could fill in on their own screens.

What I don't like: I am used to moving around a lot when I write on the board. I felt tied to my computer. Since I am still learning how to use it, some class time has been wasted.

What I do like: The feature where students can pick from red, yellow or green to show their understanding of what is being presented seemed useful (when I told them to use it as intended rather than picking their favorite color). The monitor is a good feature, too, when I remember to enable it. The next thing I learn should be how to send messages to students who stray from the task at hand.

Bottom line: After this chapter I will give it a break for a bit, but I would like to use it again (maybe in a different class) and try out some more features.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

First Dyknow

Okay, even though the first word that comes to mind is "disaster," it wasn't really that. I'm better with "tech" stuff when I can have things prepared ahead of time, and take my time. Using Dyknow in class requires me to keep a lot of stuff in my head to do on the spot, and I did not do so well my first time out, despite one-on-one tutoring with a colleague who uses the tool extensively.

My freshmen were helpful, offering suggestions about how to share a panel with them and so on. And it went better during the second class than in the first. That, I think, means that I am indeed teachable.

I don't see myself using it every day, but I do think that when I am more familiar with the software, it could be useful for some things. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I felt like the projects weren't going anywhere, and that more face time was needed. So today was a "project day," and groups for the most part were able to formulate challenges and give themselves a direction. I enjoyed our discussions as I consulted with each group and tried to guide. I'm not sure whether or not I should have encouraged "bigger" thinking. But they had some worthwhile goals, and the time frame is limited. Now to see what kind of research they do and what solutions they will devise.

And most of all, now to see if the process has been jumpstarted enough to take off. The groups need to start accomplishing some things outside of class, and I hope that now they will have enough to go on.