Friday, October 28, 2005

Take 5--Buddhist Brainstorm

I subbed for Maura Moritz's World Lit. class today and she had her students respond to a Koan: Where is one's soul kept and how does one keep it in place if it is so easily set free upon death? We wrote and then discussed this concept. As a class, the consensus was that a soul is something we contrive, we hold inside: thoughts, dreams, loves, passions, worries, challenges, strengths, weaknesses, beliefs, values, morals, etc. And when we die, it makes sense that our soul is set free as we keep these thoughts within us. I asked the students to think about this as a challenge from the Buddhist. How can we set our soul free...enlisting it on the world instead of just dying (freeing) it with our body deep within the ground or tucked in-between dusty walls of a box? Does the Buddhist want us to think about where we keep our soul, in that who we touch, relationships, friendships, art, writing--things we leave on earth when we die--is where our soul needs to be.

I wonder about constructivism and how I can transcend students to believe that their work is greater than just an assignment given to one individual. Blogging is one way where their work will be published in a way that many can share in their writing. What other ways are there?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Take 5--Just wondering...

As I sit at my computer scanning my Oedipus files and looking on the Internet for interesting activites, I wonder how you can be a constructivist teacher when you have to read a fairly boring play? Is this the time when we the teachers should derail from what the norm has been to teach and find new ways that do the same thing? What about when we need to teach things that are necessary, but not engaging? Coming up with a new "gimmick" to introduce Oedipus or engage them in the day's lesson is not all constructivism is, I know. So, where do I go from here?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Take 5--a complaint or just crankiness?

Take 5...or rather 15. This struck me so wrong today in class--the 15 minute time constraint. Yes, I know we are honoring our time, but gosh, to cut people off (not just me) right at the buzzer without even finishing my sentence; this does not fit constructivism, in my mind. I don't know, am I just tired and crabby?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Take 5--Grading, blogging, lesson planning...what should I do?

Ok...teacher conferences are over, at least one night, and I am thinking about how much grading I have to do and I haven't planned my lessons for next week. So, how does constructivism fit into next week's schedule? How can I engage my students...or better, engage myself?

Thursday, October 13, 2005


I worked with and at first, was frustrated because the fields to fill in seemed different than what we discussed with Karl. After I spent a little time playing with it, I am thrilled about it. I find sites at home and can come to school and there they are! I am loving the tags, so you can look under certain labels to find some or many links depending on the category. I was glad I "took 5" on this, even though it took many "take 5's."

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Take 5--Carter's view of winter

Aaahh, the sound of take 5 sounds wonderful and in fact, we had just this yesterday--a snow day! How beautiful was that! I actually used the day to grade, relax, and watch my son make 34 snowballs. How does this have to do with constructivism? I'll tell you.

In researching constructivism a little deeper yesterday, I came across a website that explains constructivism, breaking it down into 5 E's: engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate. My son in his curious state became a constructivist using "the philosophy about learning, that proposes learners need to build their own understanding of new ideas, has been labeled constructivism" ( Carter naturally was engaged the second he saw the snow piled on top of tree limbs and the continued snowflakes falling, his grin and eager to put on snowpants showed he was engaged. He quickly explored what he knew about snow realizing his feet would get wet because we haven't purchased snow boots yet; he forged ahead without a second thought. He continued his exploration using a snowball maker Becca had bought Jeremy last Christmas. He wanted to save the snowballs for his daddy to see when he got home from work, so Carter came up with a great plan--he would save them in the freezer. I am tapped on the shoulder as I was napping on the couch with, "Mama, come see what I put in the freezer!" Springing the freezer door open, I see not just a couple, but 34 snowballs crammed in between frozen peas and hamburger! Snow formed into perfect sphers laced with grass and dirt, Carter explored frozen ice.

Quickly moving into the explaining stage, Carter drew a picture which turned into a quiz for Jeremy. He drew himself and Jeremy in a snowball fight and then posed this question: how many snowballs did Carter make? 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, or 35. When Jeremy came home, Carter explained how he made the snowballs and where he put them. He elaborated about his discovery.

Being the modest little 6-year old, he then evaluated himself: didn't I do a great job, mommy?

I thought about how constructivism is such an active learning process and I had the opportunity to watch it unhold, all on a glorious snow day!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Finding a reason to blog

Writing about what other kids wrote about sounds like a circular mess to many. We discussed our fears and brainstormed how we could use them in our field. Interesting conversations and challenges: becoming a scribe for a day in math, a reading log in English, discussion forum for political issues in history. I was thrilled and energized at the new development in the writing process: publishing.

One thing that Karl and Terry encouraged us was not to create MORE for us and for the kids. Make blogs replace something else AND make it valid. Kids need to have a buy-in besides a grade to make an interesting blog. These were great suggestions.

I found humor in the comic strip, but I think that students reading what others think about literature, reading, etc. makes for another avenue for discussion. I think students might value hearing what their fellow peers think about a piece or literature or writing equally, or sometimes even more than they do from their teacher. I think there will be conversations between students that might not have happened previously.