Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Semester Reflection Period 5

What changes have you seen this semester in regards to your education? What role did technology play in that change? What role did the constructivist philosophy play in that change? (constructivist-students becoming producers of information, students in charge of their own learning. What suggestions for improvement do you have for me next year? What are some of the things you would suggest I do again?

Make sure to include specific examples and expand on each other's ideas. Your feedback- honest and reflective- is important!

71 comments:

ZachH said...

This semester, there has been a lot of growth in my learning. I do feel like I am now a producer of information and I think the laptops have played a huge role in that. The laptops allow me to access my own information and additional information. Plus, when a topic really intrests me (like AWNM did) I am able to do additional research and find out more information.

I also think i have become more creative in my work. Before, I always assumed that a "project" meant "poster or powerpoint." This year (especially the Wikified Research Paper and the Romeo and Juliet 10 events project) I have begun thinking in some new inivative ways.

I really enjoyed this class this year and I think it has opened my eyes to a whole new way of learning.

Tylerg! said...

This semester has proved to be one of the better ones. First semester I hadn't quite grasped the whole high-school concept but now the second semester has proved better. I'm maintaining good grades and although I don't h ave an A I believe my deducation has improved. The lap-tops have given me a new way of viewing education. I can enhance my learning through multiple resources on the internet, independent studies and group work. I believe I will take some of these lessons with me the rest of my life.

lesliel said...

This semester my education has been truly amazing. I look back and see how my learning has been in the past and I see how different this year has been. I feel so independent to learn for myself. Not for my teachers, not for my school, not for my parents, but for me. Technology has allowed me to broaden my learning to the internet and to become more comfortable with computers. I can find information for myself and then ask a teacher if I need further help. It's so hard to explain, but learning for me has become so much more important, interesting, just more everything. I feel trusted and I feel mature in this class because of the technology. This has been a great learning experience for me and I would eagerly take the chance to do this again if i could. I think that next year you should do exactly what you did this year because you have helped me learn so much, and i feel really prepared for next year.

ashleyf said...

Compared to eighth grade language arts especially, I've learned so much. The way we analyzed a book was to have a test on it. And we had one socratic seminar each semester. It seems that every year before this one was only focused on making sure we know where commas go in sentences and make sure we have read certain books. Who cared if we understood them, as long as we read them. But this year the way we did fishbowls opened up a whole new experience. Not only in learning, but i feel that the discussions went outside the classroom, making everyone more confortable around each other and more eager to learn more.

Technonlogy did play a big role in the way we could make in class assignments neater and more creative using more than just the physical supplies we had in the classroom. But I don't think it was the main reason for how much everyone got out of this year. Maybe we were lucky enough to have very compatible people who all want to get just a little extra out of every class. But it also had to do with the way we could take a project and make it our own signature way of doing things. Such as the recent Romeo and Juliet project. You could just see how right off the bat, everyone was thinking of how they saw Romeo and Juliet. Such as a friend of mine who love music, so they made a CD with ten songs that related ot the ten events in the play. I really hope next year will bring the same creativity and imagination as this year did.

Keep up the great teaching Ms. Smith, it was a great year.

rsabey said...

Well I have seen two different sides of the spectrum... fifth perioid and second period, so I don't think I am a great judge of what has changed with the learning but I have noticed differences in the classes and i like different things about each. My favorite thing about period two was the home like enviroment where you dont feel judged and where you can openly say what you think and feel.
I like the depth of idea and the differences in fith period. people dont feel bad to dissagre and have there own ideas.

ParkerH said...

I haven't really seen many large changes in my education. I may not be observant enough or something, but besides just learning about certain topics, I haven't changed in learning that much. Technology was a big change first semester, but not so much second semester. Since because of what I said before, I'm not sure that constructivist philosophy did much either. I may not be seeing what I've learned, like I said before, but whatever.

For next year, all I can really say is to work out some of the quirks. Things like grading and subjectivity thereof are mostly what I'm talking about. Generally it the class was pretty good, but like I said, just fix the small things.


Corrector's corner:
You never ended the parenthesis. It started with ( and never ended with ). ;)

melissaz said...

Well Ms. Smith, this year has been such a huge year of growth for me. I have to say that I really did enjoy the class and I learned more than I ever expected. What I liked most was the completely different structure of the class in comparison to other years and other classes. We were completely free to take total control of our learning; and by that I have learned so much. I have learned how to write better, how to express my opinions, how to collaborate with other students, different learning forms, and ways to just change the regular. I feel very lucky to have gotten into your class this year Ms. Smith; you really have transformed my learning in ways that I know I will be taking with me for future years to come.

There is a little that I would recommend you change for future years. Right now at the end of this year I feel a little overwhelmed with all the work that we have to do for your class. I feel that everything I do for your class has a lot of purpose and meaning, but there seems to be so much sometimes. You are definitally very good at continually checking in with your students, so I think that you need to always continue to make sure that everyone is swimming to some extent. I just want you to know that being a student in your class is a lot of hard work and many times can push us to the limit, and I don't reget anything I did in your class in the least bit. Just be sure to not completely drown your students in future years.

But there really isn't much of anything to complain about; thank you Ms. Smith!!

mattw said...

I think my learning this semester was slightly better than last, or at least more productive, because I really knew what I was doing this time around. I really like having the laptops. They're like our own electronic notebooks (that we share with three or more other classes you NEVER PLUG THEM IN), and I like them because we can personalize them. For instance, we can change our background type in fancy fonts, and even change how bright the screen should be.
I think the constructivist philosophy is nice, but maybe just a little over-rated. When a student take charge of their own learning, that means they set their own standards, and predictably, some of those self-expectations may fall a little low. Besides, sometimes there is nothing wrong with the way teachers are teaching right now (like how we talked about learning in math).
Next year, you should encorporate more fiction into the cirriculum. That, and MORE POETRY. I was very disappointed on the absolutely minimal time we spent on poetry, and I really like that subject.
You should do the WRP again, but I'm not so sure about the PLJ. The PLJ seemed pointless to me, and I felt like I was just typing things that won't matter as soon as the units over, and nobody-including me-would care.

kristinah said...

OK, well this year has been the most amazing year that I have had in an english class, probley ever. I have become really great friends with everyone in the class and I feel like it is just a great big family.
I have learned to think about things more in depth and not just accept them for what they are. I now take things and make them personal for me instead of taking the ideas of other people and leaving it at that. Technology really brought in the aspect of widening my learning and being able to find out more about something even if the teacher knew nothing about it. It also helped me to connect what we were learning to other classes and to other real life situations.
The constructivist phylosophy made me remember the things we learned even better because I learned and absorbed the information the I thought was important instead of being told what to think and how to think of it.

Next year, I would maybe do a few less projects because it seems as if we are always doing projects. (I love all of them and really didn't think that there were too many but I have talked with other people about this and this was one of their concerns). I think that your high expectations are what really made me grow this year, so I would not change those. To be truely truely honest with you, I think that you kindof played favorites a little. Just watch out for that a little bit because it can make it not as fun as it could be for some people(it wasn't obvious).
I would definately do the daniel pink bloging or the same situation with a different book again becuase that was such an amazing experience for me.
Keep going with the fish bowls but for 1984, I would do a mandatory fishbowl at the end of every section because I really missed the fishbowls on that since there was so much to discuss.

Over all this year has been great and I want to thank Ms.Smith for all of her hard work this year.

hannahl said...

This year was inexplicably life changing. Let's start off by reminding everyone that I am a huge fan of English, it is definately what I am most passionate about (besides maybe dance). I came into this class as a mistake, I was supposed to be in integrated SS/English but they had left a class out of my schedule and on the first day switched me to Smith's period 5 honors English 9, a suprise and something that worried me. So... I walk in, and I sit down, and Ms. Smith says "Hello everybody" and there is silence. She told us how to reply and we did. And then, she began explaining the new world that we were about to enter, one of laptops, responsability, professional learning, and amazing opportunities. I had no idea that first day just how MUCH Smith and her class would actually rock my entire world. The first and most important thing about this learning environment was the responsability and trust Smith gave us on day one. She said things like "I trust you, but once you break my trust, you will never get it back," and "I will push you to the edge, but NEVER over." In this way, I automatically wanted to work the hardest I ever had for her. Later in the year I realized that yes, I was working like this for her, but also, I had finally gained this superhuman ability to be confident in my abilities and therefore work for myself, for the knowledge that I wanted to gain. This kind of self-motivated learning is what every classroom needs. It surely breeds more successful, well-rounded, knowledgable students. Another thing, of course, that was amazing this year was technology in the classroom. I was a person who used the computer occasionally for homework and internet, but I didn't really embrace it as a huge learning tool until this year. One of the most important multimedia projects for me this year was the Wiki paper. I worked SO hard on that paper and I really feel like it is the best paper I have ever written, it was my personal best. This is because I was so passionate about the topic I chose to research and I wanted to work hard to make it a high quality peice of writing. Therefore, I worked like crazy to get a lot of research, to have very well written paragraphs, and to entice the reader with wikified aspects like videos and links. This truly changed the way I learned in AWNM because I was opened to a whole new world of technology that I now use a lot, (for instance, I have like five Wikispaces right now!). Also, the laptops were so important in the classroom because it gave me every opportunity. I could find my facts to add to discussions, make amazing projects that could be shared with a jump drive, and edit other's papers like crazy! This really inspired me to explore the amazing opportunities in technology and constantly strive to use them for other classes and for my life. I feel like first semester really taught us about our world through literature, challenging the system, and building in-depth ideas about what our society is. We really delved deep and I especially look back on Fahrenheit 451 fishbowls with so much love. They really got the class thinking, and the book really came alive. Macbeth, also, was an arsenal of philosophy and reflections on human nature. Paralleling this with Lord of the Flies was perfect, this was really truly the first time in my life that I finally realized how important and abundant connections are. Seriously, I can no longer read a book without making millions of connections, mostly to things we talk about in class. It enriches my everyday life to watch a newscast, read an article or book, or converse with adults and connect to literature with conviction. That is yet another important thing about this year, we learned how to learn in a way that was relevant to everything but the grade you got. It really mattered on a world scale and emphasized just what the point of education is, to prepare students for an unknown future and make them question everything in the world around them. This is obvious in every book we read. In Macbeth, we really connected the human nature of this tragic hero to the idea that all humans are inherently evil and power-hungry. In LOF, we talked avidly about how this scenario of young boys turning into savage animals is applicable in modern warfare and human nature. In Fahrenheit 451, we discussed how Bradbury's fictional warning was starting to become a reality, and why that was so. For the Chosen, we really examined our relationships and the prejudice that humans pretend is not there. Also, our banned book assignement made us examine the censorship of literature and why it is a sign that humans are basically power-hungry. As for second semester, we read things that were highly relevent, namely AWNM. This book and the unit centered around it was focused solely on how we could change our lives and education for the better of all. By conversing with prominent individuals and conferencing with Pink, I really understood what I wanted to do to make education work for me and how other classes could become extraordinary. Poetry mainly consisted of how we interpreted different poems and what they meant today. In 1984, we again had to painfully examine what might become of humans. Like F451, we were forced to see the world as it is, not a good place! Then, we had to confront the societal problems that Orwell had correctly predicted and what we might do to stop his world from becoming real. In Romeo and Juliet, we examined relationships and the idea that human nature is so prideful that we will go to great lengths to "win". All of these many things we studied were absorbed by my brain in an amazing way that has really never happened to me in school before, because I was so passionate about everything we did and because it really did matter to my life and the world. Without this, the class would really be like every other class. Technology is great, but it is the connections you make with it and the relevency of the class that creat such an energized learning environment. Also, I think the professional learning environment of the class was integral. Using technology made this possible because we became a family of learners through blogs, group assignments, and fishbowls. Really, I have never seen a class so close to one another. I respect and value each and every member of period 5. They have given me a chance to question my own ideals and expand my own expectations of myself with a challenge to be the best I can be. Next year, I would encourage the parallel of LOF and Macbeth, as it was important to me to teach me how to make connections. The structure of first semester was very effective. Also, I think the blog was so important for late night philosophy conversations. AWNM was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I dream every future class will get to do. Seriously, it was worth every late night and every stress binge eating session! The use of videos for Macbeth and RJ plus the acting of the class was integral to understanding Shakespeare. The grading of the Wiki paper with Smith was a perfect solution to grading, and I think everyone appreciated and loved it as did I. That should definately be done again. Lastly, the semester project was so important to me. I worked really hard with my partner and we really put our hearts into it. I had so much fun doing it and it is such a great learning experience to have that much responsability. The only thing I would say could be better next year would be the 1984 unit. Constructivism played a huge role the entire year. We had to run our own discussions, Smith almost never lectured, which gave us a lot of responsability, and the students retained way more information because we learned it how we want it and taught our peers. However, I think that 1984 is one of the most important peices of literature ever written. I feel like our class, including me, fell short on teaching each other its importance. This is mainly because we this unconscious tendency to focus on unimportant facts, regurgitation, and games. This is exactly what we don't want to see in a classroom. Therefore, I think that next year, the students need to either have more experience teaching each other, or there needs to be a weekly fishbowl to really explore the concepts in the book, which worked so well for F451. I think that if our class taught another book to one another, we would be awesome, but being that it was our first time, we really didn't do as well as we could have for such a dynamic piece of literature. Overall, this year was a gift to me. First semester taught me to work the hardest I ever had, to question myself and my world, and make huge connections. Second semester taught me to drive my own learning, and to be a life learner, pursuing knowledge on my own outside the classroom. This year was... just really a blessing. It really did change my life and realize that someday, I want to educate people in this same way, because it is such a gift. It showed me my passions, gave me the gift of self-pursued learning, and made me who I am today. There is nothing left to say, it was literally the best experience of my life. Ms. Smith, you rock!

alexf said...

Well, wow, I’ve got nothing compared to Hannah :), but anyways…

I’ve honestly learned a ton this semester! In January, I’ll admit, I was completely unexcited about reading AWNM, but by the end of the unit, I realized how much I’ve actually learned! Honestly, it really did make a huge impact on my learning! I enjoyed the freedom part of the wikispace and the PLJ. I could assess myself and I was able to write about what actually interested me! I also enjoyed the grading of them because it did allow me to have an input on what I felt my grade should be. This way, I could argue my points and clarify what I was saying. Also, I enjoyed the 1984 book because, although slightly scary, it helped me come to realize what our society could turn into. And finally, I’ve sort of started liking Shakespeare thanks to R&J. I loved our discussions because it helped me realize and consider different points of view and what the characters were actually saying.

Over this semester I really feel like my writing has improved a great deal. I can now convey what I’m actually trying to say without struggling. Also, I’ve learned how to make connections and focus on what I’m reading.

I’ll admit, I’m one of those people who think that our generation today is lazy and too much consumed by technology…and I hate it. But, with this laptop class, I’ve come to realize how much a “moderate” dose of technology can help us. It improves and expands learning, while staying in “reality.”

Again, I think that the freedom of this class and the individuality of the class have helped my learning because it has affected my other classes as well. Seriously, it’s actually amazing how much English has affected my learning… now that I look back on it.

I realize that a lot of people have said this, but I would just tweak the grading for the inner circles. I understand that it is important to participate, but I also think it is important to realize that it is sometimes difficult to speak in a class as “competitive” as ours. Maybe just looking to make sure that the students and focused and sometimes speaking would be a good grading tool. Also, a second thing I would change would be to make sure that people don’t monopolize the conversation. (You can even see this monopolization when we talk about how not to monopolize!!!!! Hahaha)

I definitely suggest that you read AWNM again and that you continue with the great discussions. All the books that we have read are meaningful and have impacted my learning.

Overall, I have really learned a lot this year and I haven’t really realized it until now! This class has taught me so much and I am very thankful for it. Thanks Ms. Smith!

maddisonm said...

Looking back at my learning, I can not believe the change. I have noticed that I have become more of a problem solver and I find myself striving to improve and always coming up with new creative approaches to projects. I think technology played a HUGE role in this. I think this was because with technology, you can take it to the next level and there is never a reason for not knowing something or having something available to you. For one you have the internet, but also there are so many programs that can help with the outcome of a project’s end result.
Also, I think that constructivist philosophy played a huge role in my learning as well. It is one thing to regurgitate information if you want to be a below average learner, but it is another thing to actually expand and explore books and ideas. I think that the projects Ms. Smith assigned really helped with becoming a producer of information. These projects, I feel, helped us as learners to explore our own ideas, and find out things we never knew we could come up with. And with that, one of the main reasons I did so well on projects and took so much away from them is because of the expectations you had for us. As kristinah said, “I think that your high expectations are what really made me grow this year, so I would not change those.” I highly agree with this! With out the expectations I would have given only 100%, not 110%. Also, in the future I would keep on going with the fishbowls; however, I think they should be graded more on the quality of the comments versus the quantity of the person’s comments. I think this year was very successful and I am glad I was placed in this class! Thank you Ms. Smith for all you do!

maddisonm said...
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jordanh said...
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jordanh said...
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jordanh said...

This semester has been a semester of improvement. I felt like I was flatlining first semester, and that I wasn't really improving my English skills, but this semester, I see that my English skills were improving all along. When I read Romeo and Juliet, I felt like I understood Shakespeare like never before. I did not need modern day translations in the book for me to grasp what was happening. I may not have understood it perfectly, but I got the main idea, and this is huge improvement compared to Macbeth. What I have found out about technology is that it isn't what I learn from, but rather, it is what I learn with. Sure, I can get facts, but, I have to apply them and teach them to myself. The laptop has been a great resource, but in the end, I didn't rely on memorization to learn, I had to teach myself in new ways. With projects and big idea assignments, I was able to grasp what I was learning. The only suggestion that I really think would be helpful is for you (Ms. Smith) to give your students a brief summary after every scene. I did grasp the main idea, and I know that I could have asked questions, but sometimes, when I took the quiz, I realized that I had questions that I didn't think I had when I read it. In other words, I understood the act at first, but when I took the quiz, I was confused at times. So, I would suggest that you would quickly summarize what we need to know after each scene.

catem said...

Well, this semester and year in general has turned the way that I look at education and learning totally upside down. I have found that this year, I not only do the assignment to get it over with, but actually take something applicable to my life and the world from the assignment. For once the things that I have been writing about were actually topics that I had a passion for (other than the Macbeth comparison paper last semester). My favorite assignment of the year, although quite massive was definitely the wikified research paper. I put so much time, research, and effort into it, and when it was over with, I felt that it was ready for the world to see. The paper not was not only supported by words, but also with videos and pictures, which I think, added so much depth to it.
On the topic of wikis, I think now would be a perfect time to talk about technology. For me, and for I believe most of the class, having laptops available at all times has done nothing but maximize out learning potential. Any time that you needed to find out more facts, or needed a little peek at Spark notes to make sure that you understood the plot line of a book, all you needed to do was open up your computer and look it up. The other thing that I loved about the laptops was that you didn’t always have to use them. For me, especially when we were reading Shakespeare, I wouldn’t even take out my laptop, and just take notes in my book. So I really feel that the laptops were just like having a massive library at hand, not to mention a great way to transport work from school to your house, and a great way to collaborate projects. Probably my favorite thing about having the laptops though, was not the laptops themselves, but the fact that you trusted us to use them. I feel like every time we have a sub, and they let us take out the laptops, that we are being watched like murder suspects. There will always be some people who take advantage of the privilege, but if you never trust them then they will automatically not respect you. I feel that you handled that aspect very well.
Before I get onto more good aspects of the class, let me cover the things that could be improved upon. One thing that many people have suggested before me (ex, Parker &Alex) would be the subjective grading on the fischbowls. I know that you tried very hard to grade fairly, but maybe you could come up with a precise system type of deal. Also, when grading fischbowls, you should consider how hard it is to get a word in when people are monopolizing the conversation. When three or four people are just talking back and forth, especially when they are arguing it is nearly impossible to get your comment in a polite manner. The other thing that I noticed a couple of people said needed to be changed was the amount of projects. Now in this subject, I would not decrease the number of projects, because I feel each had its own purpose, but maybe try to time better. It would always seem like when ever I had a big English project, I would also have a huge science and history project at the same time. Now, I know you can’t coordinate with every teacher in the school about projects, but maybe just try to talk to a couple of teachers, especially other honors teachers (because most of your honors kids are in at least one other honors class) and try not to assign projects due on the same day. The only other thing that I would change about the projects would be the boundaries that you set. The reason that I say this is because I would find myself spending hours and hours on one project, and I would get an A+ on it, but so would someone who spent an hour on it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the open-endedness of the projects, but maybe just be clearer on how big of a project it is. Oh, I also agree with Matt, I would have liked to spend at least a week more on poetry, it seemed kind of like it was just there because the curriculum required it to be there.
As for things that you should do again, there are definitely a lot, but the short list would include:
~A Whole New Mind (or another book with the same situation)
~Having the class teach, maybe do it twice to see how they improve at teaching
~Some type of wikified research paper
~The This I Believe Essays
~Semester projects
~Keep the same books, they are all connect well
~Throwing in a good variety of projects
Well, Ms. Smith now I can talk about my absolute favorite part of your class, and that is how I have my analyzing and consumption/production of knowledge has changed. Before your class, I pretty much took books no deeper than the pages. When my teacher would make me make connections they would be things like “Suzy ate watermelon, and I’ve eaten watermelon before too.” Now, I just feel like I understand books and papers and discussions and metaphors at an adult level or even higher than most adults, and the best part about it is that you didn’t tell us how to do that . In our class, together we all dug deeper into our brains and were able to help each other build upon our learning. This is an experience and skill that I can not thank you enough for allowing me to have. Thank you so much for this wonderful year, and keep teaching in your unique way.

morgant said...

I have definitely loved this english class. This semester has been pretty much the same as first semester, but I have definitely gotten the concept of computers better. I am one of those people who sometimes really do like writing, but not always on computers. So, I liked the variety in teaching, but there was also a balance, which I really liked. The computers helped me some, and I definitely liked the bringing things on your USB drive and such instead of carrying a bunch of papers along. I also really liked the students teaching students idea. I really liked hearing thoughts from peers. We did that first semester through fishbowls and such, but our peers actually teaching us was a huge part of our understanding. We have so many intelligent people in our class and who bring out the most amazing connections or ideas in the open. That helped me learn a lot more with all of the different opinions.

One thing I liked, but didn't like was the wiki research paper. I loved that you could input videos, images, and music and such, but A Whole New Mind was not one of my favorite books all semester. I am definitely left-brained, and even though the book was written in sort of a left-brain manner, I was still bored by it in some parts. But, I liked that you gave us so many options to choose from and you let us go whatever direction you wanted. Now, the way we did the grading I liked, but more I disliked it. I like doing my best work on something and receiving the grade that the teacher thought I deserved. I mean, you basically did that, and it was a great way, but maybe we could receive a grade and then discuss it with you if we had questions or anything. But, that is kind of a hassle so the way you did it was totally fine. I loved 1984 and that you made us teach the class and such, that was really fun. I would definitely agree with Kristina on the project thing. I think maybe we should do a little less projects. I loved all of them, but maybe make them less complicated? I don't know. But I do agree with Kristina on that one.

Let's see...improvements. I can actually think of nothing. I really do like your teaching style, and sometimes I did get a little annoyed when you said something like, "What do YOU think it should be like?" Haha. Or something like that. I'm one of those people who sometimes have a bit of trouble getting creative. Maybe a little more structure in some aspects. But, other than that, I am drawing a blank. I also agree with MaddisonM on the blog/fishbowl thing. I think the comments should not be graded so much on quantity, but on quality. But, I definitely enjoyed being in your period five class, and I will miss it very much!

morgant said...

"But, I liked that you gave us so many options to choose from and you let us go whatever direction you wanted."

Okay, on that part of my comment what I meant to say was:

"But, I liked that you gave us so many options to choose from for the wiki paper and you let us go whatever direction WE wanted."

Haha. Sorry about that.

Selenam said...

I think I contribute more to discussions now then I did in previous years. I also think I pay more attention to detail in writing, and my paragraphs/papers etc. have much more detail and are longer. I don't know how much technology really played in with those changes, except for maybe the WRP. I think the constructivist philosophy really advanced my learning, because I was in charge of my learning, it made me want to expound on what I learned. If I am just force-fed information, like in previous years, then I am likely to forget, ignore, and not care about the information I get. If I have to work for the same information myself, then I am more likely to remember and use the information. I agree with Cate and Matt, the poetry unit was too short. I can hardly even remember the unit. If it was longer, that would definitely help. I really liked the WRP, it gave me a lot of literary information that I hadn't really used before.

mattf said...

This semester, I have seen many changes in my learning due to the laptops. Last semester, I did not fully use the laptops to their fullest potential. However, this semester, I used the internet much more for my AHNM project and Romeo and Juliet. I also used the internet much more for our semester project. The constructivist philosophy played a huge role in my learning. In a typical class without laptops, if a teacher tells you some information that you think is insignificant, you still have to learn it. In our laptop class, if some information presented to us was considered not highly valuable, we would be able to research it to make it more valuable, or replace it entirely with another fact that we discovered on our own. This showed that the teacher has a lot less responsibility in the learning of the students, and the students are in charge of their learning. I got more out of my learning this year because I was able to find information that was meaningful to me, not just the curriculum.

I have a couple suggestions:
1)Refine the fishbowl. The fishbowl is a work of art, but it does have a couple imperfections. One is monopilization of the conversation. This was a big problem in our class, as a couple of people controlled the majority of the conversation. Although we advised to allow others to voice their opinions, the monolipizers seemed to not be able to use self-restraint and control themselves. Therefore, I believe that something should be done to enforce the no-monopolies policy. As far as I'm aware of, nothing was done to enforce it, which allowed it to continue due to lack of self control. Enforcement would be a good idea.

2)I think that the projects we completed were great, but I would recommend a little more structure. I personally am not creative, and need structure, so maybe this wasn't the right class for me, but I felt I often struggled without structure and got less out of the assignment. To me, it felt more as if kids were making their projects for a grade from the teacher rather than because it had significance to them. I have no problem with this, but grading on creativity, something that I lack, I don't agree with. I feel that creativity grading should vary from person to person, once said person's creative abilities are established. To compare my creative ability to someone else's is just a way to mark points off me, not to show how creative I was in the assignment for myself. I know this may be unrealistic, but it is food for thought.

I suggest that you do the same texts next year, especially AHNM. AHNM was a good text that taught us about what was expected and demanded of us in the real world. It was an eye-opener and I thought it was worthwhile. I think that the earlier in the year that this unit could be taught, the better.

Laurenc said...

In regards to my education this semester I have been able to open my mind and become more creative. With open ended projects such as the 1984 group days and the Romeo and Juliet events project, I have been forced to think for myself and devise my own plan for success. Technology played a role by giving me access to information that helped me organize my thoughts and arrange my writing in a clear and concise way. Technology has also allowed my group for the semester project to communicate away from school and get things done via email and google docs.

I think taking charge of out own learning is important to a certain extent. I would be lying if I said I enjoyed not having guidelines for the 1984 group days because our group didn't know what to do and therefore did not perform as well as I know we could have. I think in life there will always be a basic outline of what to do, especially in a working environment. I do see the importance of independent thinking though and would keep this way of teaching in your curriculum with perhaps a few more guidelines. I love the interaction this class has provided both this semester and last and would defiantly keep the fishbowl and discussion days.

stephenf said...

In regards to my personal education, I have seen some improvement. I have been able to rely more on myself or class mates to find help. Technology was a large help. Such as the AWNM project. We worked through our ideas backing them up with facts found on the internet.In the 1984 unit I really enjoyed having my fellow classmates teach. They came up with ideas and lesson planes that they knew students liked and would be more informative. I would suggest, as others have, that you teach the AWNM unit the same way and 1984. Make sure to really get involved with the students because we may be a family of students but without a strong "head of the house" to guide us but be engaged in what we do and how we learn. Be a participant even if it is tiresome. Be the student and a colegue to the students.

mitchs said...

This semester I have seen a lot of change in the way I learn. I think the laptops have really played a large role in this change. I feel like with a laptop, I don't need to ask questions and I can find my own information. I think you should definitely continue with projects like AWNM. I that project helped me learn the most. It really forced me to be creative and also helped my formal writing. It was cool to finally be finished with it and then publish it for the world to see. The one thing I would change for next year is the structure of the fishbowl. I think that maybe you shouldn't force everyone to go in to the inner circle once per book. In the inner circle, there are people that are there every week, that are not even signed up to be in the inner circle that monopolize the conversation. That makes it hard for the quieter people to get a word in. I would either tell people that they can't be in the inner circle every week, or not force everyone into it. Overall, this year has been a great learning experience for me.

Ryad said...

I have seen an improvement in my confidence in writing and answering questiongs this semester. I think that because many of the things I wrote this year weren't just for the the teacher bur for the world, with the help of technology, I put more thought into my answers. I also feel as though having the Fish Bowls have helped me to think on my feet and keep a logical flow of thought going. Next year I would suggest that you work a little more on how you want people to write but I would definatly keep the Fish Bowls and independant learning philosophy.

maddieh said...

Okay so my first comment didn't post. But basically I really liked being able to use technology to help me learn more. I liked it because technology isn't something I have been able to use everyday in all my other classes. I think it is so amazing how much we have taught ourselves and each other. The only thing I would suggest to change would be the AWNM unit. I just feel like there was so much that we tried to do during that unit, that it was so easy to get behind. It got very stressful too. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that this was the first year that anyone had done the unit and there was some mistakes, but that is expected. Overall, I had a lot of fun this year. Thanks for doing so much for us all year.

morganw said...

Frankly, this semester started on a bad note for me. It was just not good. The Whole New Mind unit was not fun or enjoyable for me in the least. I did not find the book informative or even helpful to my learning. The only thing it taught me was how to survive through units where you don't really give a care about whatever it is you're class is doing at the time. The research paper was a TON of work, but it, contrary to the rest of the unit on AWNM, was actually helpful to me. I didn't do so hot on the writing part of it, but i did learn alot, so I'm glad I did it. The rest of the semester went awesome. My favorite works of literature are Poetry, Shakespeare, and Fantasy, so to get two out of the three all at once was great. I enjoyed 1984 and didn't learn the kind of things I was expecting from it, but I did end up learning a lot. The contructivist philosophy played a major role in my learning through out all my classes this year. It encouraged me to learn for my sake instead of just for a test. Well, as cool as it was to be able to blog with important people and have a video conference with the author about AWNM, I would suggest that you pick a different non-fiction book for next year. Particulary not a self-help book. I would also suggest that you set up different requirements for the 1984 teaching for next year. I still think that you should keep us as the ones teaching each other, but I think you should make it more clear that you want us to do in-depth studies of it and maybe add in a project (like the ones we did for the Chosen and Romeo and Juliet). These projects really helped me to learn more and organize my learning on the book.

I'm sorry if this seems a little bitter or too straight-forward, but you asked for honesty, so I gave it. I'm going to post this now before chicken out and don't post it.

katyj said...

This semester I took charge of my own learning a lot more. I didn’t really wait for you or any of my other teachers to specify what exactly I should do on my assignments, and really took charge. I learned a lot about the real world, and know a lot more about how to survive in it.


The wikified research paper is probably the best example of technology affecting my education. The voice thread also really affected my learning. As I learned more about technology and became more proficient with it, it made learning a lot easier because I had so many more resources to aid me in my search for knowledge.


Being a producer was at first very hard for me. I had always had people tell me exactly what to do and to not have that made it very hard for me to function. But in the end I got it right.


Really I thought that the class was pretty awesome, and the only thing I could say that could be better, is maybe grade people on the content of what they say, instead of how many comments they have.

whitneys said...

Wow, what a journey this year and semester in particular has been! This semester I feel like I have really learned how to learn on my own with all the units we have done. The AWNM was, of course, a unique learning experience in itself because it was basically an exploration of this idea of the learning with the “whole mind”, which I had never even thought about before. Even though it was an incredible amount of work, there was not a particular structure. This allowed us students to learn and process the book for ourselves and present that information in a way that made sense to us. Further in the 1984 teaching sessions, I learned how to zone in on the major points of the book and how to get the class to see them too. I learned so much from being the teacher and definitely think the students should be given the opportunity in future years! To sum it up, this semester has really stretched me as a student and a learner. I do not merely consume the information; but take it in, process it, and then produce my own ideas from what I learn.
Technology, particularly the availability of a lap top, greatly contributed to my growth as a learner. They opened to door for me to learn information for myself instead of relying on Ms. Smith to tell me the information. With the internet, I could do my own research and thus learn the information better. They also greatly assisted in communication on group projects. Working with a group and collaborating all the ideas of the group members is a key skill in learning. The computers allowed group members to be connected by wikispaces and the project to be more productive.
As far as improvements for next year, I think that the class was structured very well and no possible improvements come into mind. I really enjoyed how you gave us three papers comparison papers for Macbeth, for that gave us a lot of practice before turning in the final paper. It was a very hard class, but I learned so much. Thanks for a great year.

mitchl. said...

This semester, I think that my skills as a student have really increased. This year, we have had so much independence in everything that we do. This semester, AWNM project has really been fun because it is the first year that I have had to do a big research paper where I got to choose the topic and customize it however I wanted to. Next year, the only thing that I would change would be to make each paragraph due on a certain date, so that way people are not waiting till the last minute to do their work. Anyway, thank you so much for this fantastic year, I have learned so much more than I had expected.

macm said...

For me, this semester was entirely more educational in terms of my learnning ands growth thatn last semester. Specifically, AWNM was an eye-opener to my ability as a writer and critical thinker. I can go onto my wiki and say, I came up with that! I created that thesis! So that was pretty cool. Also, even when I was done with the paper I wanted to add more to it just to make it even better, but not for the grade. I also learned how to wikify something which I think will come in huge handy for later school years and even into my first jobs. Improvements for the class? Well, I always have trouble with the questions on Romeo and Juliet quizzes, so maybe just hit on some of the key points in disccussion instead of asking for questions, because not everyone raises their hand when they need to. I would also tell your kids to BUY the AWNM book over winter break and seriously read 1-2 chapters. That would have helped me a lot.

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