Wednesday, November 21, 2007

a thanksgiving exchange


As part of staff development day, we 7th and 8th grade English teachers met with district high school English teachers for an hour this morning. (Please comment: have you experienced similar conversations with colleagues who teach at higher or lower grade levels?)

The main topic, overt or not, was "what DO you teach at the middle school?" since many HS teachers hear "no, we didn't learn THAT" from their students. Isn't that a lovely way to start a 7:25am meeting on the day before Thanksgiving?

Regardless, we made the best of the situation, explained what we teach without being too defensive (IMHO) and provided sample lessons/worksheets/assignments/assessments.

I shared these thoughts out loud to my colleagues:
a) Students don't know what knowledge they have, even if they have it. Metacognition is hard for adolescents.
b) Students use ignorance as self-preservation strategy.
c) Re-teaching, aka judicious review, is good.

Then, to make the meeting SEEM more like an exchange of information and less an interrogation, HS colleagues showed us example year-end portfolios, upon our request. We're piloting a portfolio system this year (7th grade) that will replace the final exam.

There was one "old friend" HS colleague with whom we reconnected, and we made one "new friend" HS colleague who just wrote and published a novel.

Oops, I said novel. I confess, I've NOT been working on my novel. Can you tell?

The beautiful irises in the picture were sent to us by my husband's aunt/uncle/cousins who live in Fort Myers, Florida. The odd-shaped paper on the table next to the vase is a "pilgrim turkey" that my daughter made. Gobble, gobble, everyone!

6 comments:

Jayme said...

Okay, so this makes me think of our volleyball system. I often wonder, what are the coaches teaching in middle school? The girls get into high school with all these weird habits that we just have to break. I doubt this is real similar to what your conversations were about. The players are actually just learning volleyball a different way than it is taught at the high school level. By the way, those flowers are incredibly beautiful.

Hugh O'Donnell said...

"I shared these thoughts out loud to my colleagues:
a) Students don't know what knowledge they have, even if they have it. Metacognition is hard for adolescents.
b) Students use ignorance as self-preservation strategy.
c) Re-teaching, aka judicious review, is good."

Great observations (I taught 8th grade US History, then I retired!).

Cool post. (I've run across your comments on other blogs we both visit.)

Hugh aka Repairman

Hugh O'Donnell said...

PS: Happy Thanksgiving!

Natalie said...

That is so rude of them to start off like that and act like you teachers aren't teaching well!

Good luck with your novel!

Tricia Grissom said...

What's that thing teachers say? I won't believe everything they say happens at home if you don't believe everything they say happens (or doesn't happen) at school. They should know better.

Orchid in the Bronx said...

Hey there - looks like you've got a a growing readership here! Middle school is the weirdest time; I think you're right, that you guys have it tough because middle schoolers are the least likely to acknowledge that they're learning anything. Btw, I'm serving on an arts-in-education panel this week, reading through applications and deciding who gets grants. Very interesting... to see how folks attempt to integrate arts into Learning Standards. My head is spinning, though - 20 apps to read.