"Show Your Work!" by Austin Kleon was a very important book for me as an educator. Albeit short, and a bit polarizing, the book reminded me that it sharing the process of my work, not just products, and encouraging my students to do the same, can be a very powerful process if curated strategically.
Not all work is worth sharing, however an attitude of curating the journey towards a final product can yield excellent feedback and subsequently empower one's learning community. Keeping this in mind, I have decided to take Kleon's call to action a step beyond simple tweeting, blogging, and encouraging my students to keep blogs.
This coming year, I will be doing ALL OF MY LESSON PLANNING (classroom teaching AND science camps) on my public website: cyclesoflearning.com. Thus, my website will serve as our classroom LMS, and be an interactive space for all lesson prompts, links, documents ,etc. (Click here to be directed to specific sub page where lessons will be kept).
I am hopeful that this approach will not only share work I find effective with other colleagues, but also force me to organizes my work for students in a more user friendly fashion.
The model below is a simple look at how I strive to pair the cognitive rigor of the learning task (higher or lower blooms) with the learning environment (individual or community space). I firmly believe that the classroom space should be a realm of critical thought and inquiry, while the individual space should be reserved for more algorithmic skills, less suited for a community of learners.
However, “drill and kill” activities that promote assimilation of content do have their place in the classroom and can often provide a great opportunity for entertaining review activities that can help build community. When these assimilation activities are placed after the inquiry and accommodation process, their purpose is more evident and their application more relevant. This week I introduced a game called “Lower Blooms Basketball” as a way to promote assimilation. We are in the process of studying chemical equilibrium, and the ability to predict which direction an equilibrium will shift when a stress is applied (Le Chatelier’s Principle) is a skill whose solution comes quickly, but one that requires a lot of practice.
To do this, I created a sheet of ~ 25 different, quick problems, and then made ~ 100 copies. I the cut the problems into little slips, placed them in bins and distributed them throughout the classroom. These were the “basketballs”. Below is a screenshot of one sheet:
Using duct tape, I placed a “three point” from one end of my classroom to the other, and placed a garbage bin in front of the classroom as the “hoop”. The rules of the game are as follows:
By the end of the 30 minutes, each student, on average, solved ~ 50 problems. One of my weakest, most disinterested students said he solved 150 problems. The next day, I sprung a pop quiz on my students, however the quiz comprised the toughest Le Chatelier problems I could find (most having to do with changes in pressure and temperature). Student performance was incredible. Although this task promoted rote, “drill and kill” learning, assimilation of this concept, AFTER students battled their misconceptions in the laboratory proved to be a meaningful use class time. Below are a few pictures: