Friday, August 27, 2010

Eyes on the prize

Next week, I'll ask my freshmen students (who will finally get to "do" English next week now that all the setup is complete) to set personal and learning goals for their first semester.  I ask my students to do this because this is a practice I engage in so often both personally and professionally.  I feel particularly inspired to do some goal setting after attending five conferences over the summer where I truly learned so much.  Often, I attend these conferences and forget about those things I learned, so this year, I sat down and looked over my notes, highlighting some inspiring items and using those items to determine how I hope to evolve this year. 

Here's what I came up with:
1.  Find audiences and experts beyond our classroom walls. I want to connect with people in other countries, in other classes and help my students gain more perspectives and build a bigger learning network.  I've started this and will follow up about how this progresses next week.
2.  Choose one class to try scribe posting.  Alan November professed the value of this practice and, so far, I am loving what it tells me about what my students learned and am also enjoying how if focuses as a permanent resource from another perspective for the kids. 
3.  Focus on building classroom culture to create a better learning and working environment.  Harvey Daniels talked about the concept of membership grids where students craft questions they are curious to know about one another and record those questions in a grid each day to begin group work.  I am trying this with all my classes and am loving seeing their relationships cultivate.
4.  Share my reading life.  I want to model my love for reading by sharing good books I read by bringing those in, doing book talks, and sharing my Goodreads account.
5.  Read out loud more in class rather than assigning so much reading homework.
6.  Blog once a week.  So far, so good, but I'm realizing how tricky this can get sitting here at 4:15 on a Friday afternoon...
7.  Differentiate based on readiness, interest, and learning profile.
8.  Engage in metacognition and help my students do the same.
9.  Explore other ways of giving feedback.

I figure if I tell the world my goals, it will be trickier to reneg.  I'll surely follow up as the semester continues...


  1. Hey. I'm loving these posts.

    I'm going to be asking my students (mostly freshmen) to do the same next week, a combination of reflection on how things are going and setting goals for themselves. Can I touch base with you on Monday to see what prompt you're going to give them to see how mine stacks up (or doesn't)?

  2. Gosh Lauren- you have so much to share. I love the idea of sharing books you have read with your students. It really focuses on displaying your learning for all to see- something you and I have talked about doing more of this year. Way to go on making it through the week!

    Like Karl, I am also interested in the prompt you are going to use. I haven't done goals with the kids in years and that would be a great way to reintroduce the idea; please share!

    I also want to know more about the "membership grid" idea. Can you tell me about that?

    I've done the scribing as you know for years. But this is the first time I have started the school year with it and had my 9th graders do it as well. The kids are learning as well as I am, that it is a journey. I feel like we go back over good scribing everyday and we still aren't there yet. I am going to post about this later in the week.

  3. Karl, thanks for commenting. I look forward to collaborating with you on this and other things. I'm excited you are back in the classroom and sharing your skills in metacognition with your kids. I'm sure that's something they'll find incredibly valuable.

    Annimal, Karl and I talked about this goal-setting idea a bit today. Jeff Brandberg has taught me a lot about it this semester. He talks about it in terms of the what, why and how: what are your goals? Why are these your goals? How will you seek to acheive them? I love this idea because it helps make kids think about their goals, values and steps in achievement.

    I'll look forward to hearing about your reflections on scribing, especially with ninth graders.

    Also, I'll catch up with you on the membership grid idea. It's kind of a visual thing...

  4. Ms. Lee-
    I recently received my teaching certificate in English and enjoyed reading the posts you have on your blog. I had never heard of and am excited to check it out! I’m sure I will be back to see what you are doing throughout the year!