A Few Updates

I should start by letting you know how the Grade 10 presentations went. I think it was great. Not because they all did an amazing job, but because they all learned something.

Most of the presentations were adequate. They made a Prezi or Animoto, as they had been instructed to. {One group did end up using PowerPoint, as they had been instructed not to do. But it didn’t go very well for them, and they afterwards acknowledged that they liked the other student’s Prezi and Animoto presentations better.} They knew the basics of their subject. They had a few pictures. It was average.

There was one really amazing presentation. He was articulate, he knew his subject inside and out, he presented the information in his own words, he was confident, made eye contact, and answered all the questions he was asked. The really amazing part was not that my teaching partner and I noticed all of this, it was that the students noticed all of this. When all the presentations were over, I made a three column chart on the board: excellent, average, and developing. We talked about what separates an average presentation from an excellent one and one that is still developing.

The students nailed it. We talked about the excellent presentation we saw, and what made it that way. The student with the excellent presentation even talked about how he got there – he used more than one source when researching, he learned the information rather than just copy/pasting, and he practiced. It was a great moment, because the students really listened to what their peer had to say and they saw the payoff of his hard work.

We’ve since started a novel study. I’m trying something new with it, and gave out these contracts.

Novel study contract

I told the students it’s legally binding.

They are reading: The Hobbit, Miracle in the Andes, The Hunger Games, The Chrysalids, and Dracula. Not all of those. They got to choose. I’m reading all of those.

In Grade 9, we are continuing on with our “Digital Citizenship” unit, which I think I will eventually post as its own page. The other day, we read this article:

“Your Brain on Computers” 

And this one.

“Trouble Sleeping?”

Keep in mind, this was after many lessons on educational uses of technology, and the point of reading these articles was not to condemn technology, but to raise student’s awareness of some issues surrounding technology. After reading the articles and discussing them, we talked about being too dependent on technology, or even addicted to it. We talked about spending a day “in the dark ages”, i.e. without their cell phones. They chose if they wanted to give up their phone for English class or for the whole day.  Result:

Some of them were getting sweaty and shaky and touching their pocket a lot. And the basket was flashing and vibrating. But they made 54% more eye contact with me. And that’s progress.

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