As LiD comes to a close this year, I look forward to the “depth” of next year!

As Learning in Depth comes to a close in many schools in Delta this year, I can’t help but wonder what’s going to happen next year. I’m so excited to see these students finally start to get into the “depth” part of Learning in Depth.

We’ve seen these kids just start to scratch the surface of what learning in depth intends. Students have been answering the Who, What, Where, and When type questions with posters and power points of facts that relate to their topic’s main idea. But now, with this foundation just starting, I’m hoping to see students start asking the How and Why questions that I feel is the basis of all inquiry. Here’s where I’m hoping to see some interesting stuff!

This is why I would urge those schools that are choosing to change topics – not to! It defeats the purpose of depth! A year may seem like a long time and there are worries that students are going to hit walls and become stuck but please, let them! They need to hit bottom and work their way out of it. The struggle will be good for them. And you’ll be so happy to have let them struggle because the development of their knowledge tools, their thinking and questioning will benefit!

We’re just at the beginning stages of the LiD process and we should really see where this type of learning could lead. I’m still excited and I’m even excited to talk to students about what it means to be stumped on something you’re an ‘expert’ on. I’m also excited to hear from those who have been working on this project for an entire year but still don’t know a whole lot about their topic.

Maybe this will jumpstart those students into trying harder and taking it more seriously. Maybe it will be a little overwhelming feeling like you don’t know anything about something you’ve spent a whole year learning. But theres an awesome quote I love about this “I don’t know much about it.. I only started learning about it decades ago” 

So please! Keep the same topics and encourage deeper learning, deeper questioning, and something a little deeper than poster making! Have I mentioned depth and deep learning enough in this post?

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A Metacognitive Approach to Science & Inquiry

A students hilarious but true commentary on how to use the Scientific Method - please note the lack of thinking!

A students hilarious but true commentary on how to use the Scientific Method/ how to “do” Science! *Please note the inherent lack of thinking

In reflecting on the Science Fairs that I’ve attended I can’t help but ask: Whatever happened to inquiry in Science? It’s part of our standard PLOs in BC but this is one thing I found to be missing in all of these projects that test a hypothesis. I usually ask “Why did you do your experiment? How did you come to your question?” And what I usually get back is either a blank stare or  “it was in the package/online.”

The emphasis of science then, ends up on the doing but not the thinking, which I feel is the biggest shame. The essence of science and of learning is the thinking! Experiments (the doing) are done because of questions – the how and why – inquiry! Yet can be ignored in some science classrooms.  The process of thinking and questioning is being overlooked or underemphasized.

So often students are asked to use the scientific method. Which they do quite effortlessly once they’ve found an experiment from a quick google search. But how can we have our students try doing the first step on their own when they haven’t been given instruction on how?  Asking questions is a skill to be taught and explored before we ask students to even start using the scientific method in a deeper way.

An activity I would like to try is taking a metacognitive approach to science. A student would take a scientist, inventor, creator (whoever who has used the scientific method to test a hypothesis) – and instead of replicating how they came to their conclusion, dig around and discover how they got their essential question/ hypothesis and what the process of thinking is like.

This way, whoever the student chooses will act as a model for how to think. The student will have to research the life of that person, what affected their scientist enough to form that question, what connections, observations and reasonings their scientist would have made. By examining the process of thinking and question making, students may begin to understand what they must do when forming a question of their own and how this process creates the meaning behind the experiment. Why does it really matter if an egg floats or sinks in salt water? Why was answering that question important in the first place? It all comes down to the scientist and how they thought about it. Their thinking made that question an important one to answer.

Having students think about their thinking while their reading is a skill we teach day in and day out of our literacy programs (especially with the use of Adrianne Gear’s Reading/Writing Power kits). Metacognitive readers are good readers! But.. good thinkers make good scientists! 

 

The point of my blogging, how I lost sight of it, and how I’m getting my groove back

When I first decided to create a blog, a teacher once asked me, “Well, what’s your main point in even having one?” I remember replying very enthusiastically with thoughts like: I want to have my own thinking be visible and not be stuck in my head so much, I want to share my ideas and hopefully have other people contribute or change my ideas based on comments they’ve made or other links they might lead me to..

But then I started blogging, and I noticed that maybe I’ll have one person look at it every once in a while. And in all honesty, I was pretty sure it was on my own self clicking on the link to see what it looked like on the world wide web to a complete stranger. This left me feeling unmotivated and discouraged because I felt like I was talking to this great void, bursting with ideas but because it was going nowhere.. I started to write less and feel a little insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

And then another thing happened: I would have things to write about while I’m out TOCing, I get home, I start writing but then I get preoccupied with grammar, fixated on diction, and then I wind up with all these entries that haven’t made it to “post” because of my own insecurity about how I write and what it might say about me as a professional or even a person.

I was on a hike with a dear friend of mine and he asked me why I cared so much and I explained how I was worried about grammar and all the little things and that’s when I caught myself. I value my ideas more than I value how they are said. I know that I can be grammatically correct and I have the capability to write a thesis and long essays but my original point of this blog was ideas, not the forms of writing. I always tell my students, don’t worry about spelling or grammar right now, those things can be negotiated later – it’s more important to get those ideas down, that stream of consciousness and the beautiful things your brain and heart can come together and create – than to worry about an apostrophe’s placement or if it should be semi colon or just a plain old regular colon.

The best way to have the highest student performance is to have the perfect balance of stress

So, things are going to be different now. I’m going to post in a way that worries less about the nitty gritty details of writing and more about the importance of ideas being writ. As for the great dear void that I seem to write to, well eventually that void won’t be so empty and one day will be filled with colleagues of mine whom I can connect with and find inspiration from. That is my hope, and that is what I see for myself in the future. Much like my feelings about being a TOC, who wants to be an integral part of a school community but has to drop in and fly out, I want my little speck of impact on the blogosphere be connected with a community of like minded individuals wanting to develop their teaching craft further and connect with one another.

I’m not going to worry if my ideas change over time because I hope those who do read my blog realize the dynamism of the ideas I have and the opinions I hold. I’m forever trying to find ways to change not trying to find ways to stay static or of a particular dogma. By postponing my posts (pun!) I’ve missed the point of my blog entirely. My blog is meant to capture my learning, my ideas and my growth. But in delaying what’s being thought, by preening and playing with how I’ve said it, it loses it’s relevancy over time.

This could also depict my own interest towards my ‘unposted posts’ after they stay ‘unposted’ for too long.

Staying relevant and current is important and is important to our students and their learning as well. As teachers, we have to have their prewriting to draft to good copy all done within a particular time frame to keep the relevancy of that writing in their lives and their excitement on paper. Otherwise, creativity falters and you’re less likely to receive a final product with pride if they have too long to finish it and it’s done poorly. So putting time limits on activities is important to give that jolt to work and urgency needed to inspire their best work.

So here are my new blog rules for myself: remember my purpose, proofread once, hit post once it’s written, stay relevant. 

Also, because I love to nerd out over things almost unnecessarily, I’ve inserted two graphs. One was introduced from a former teacher/mentor of mine, Ray Appel, about student performance in timed activities and the other I made based on my personal findings with blog posts and interest/relevancy which you could also relate to how I even feel about my own posts that I leave alone for too long.