Saturday, March 12, 2011

Art & literature lesson: Gallery Walk

Gallery Walk involves student art work that relates to literature, peer review/comment, and some teacher prep to set-up comment sheets and logistics. The payoff - fun activity for students who love to write notes to each other, quiet classroom during the lesson, the teacher sits back and watches with satisfaction!

Goal: Students receive feedback from classmates and view a large variety of student work to further inform their own learning.

How to:

1. Students prepare art work - can be very simple drawings - however you want to connect to your curriculum. My students have just created editorial cartoons (to be entered in a contest sponsored by local newspaper), the culmination of an editorial unit. (They also wrote business letters to authors that suggested new story/character ideas for future books.) Since I'm not an art teacher by any means, we used this great how-to video web site to learn some cartooning skills prior to creating editorial cartoons:

2. Teacher prints out class roster copies with space for each student to write comment next to their OWN names.

3. Explain to class your comment directions very clearly before activity. Each student places art work AND comment sheet on his/her desk, then moves to other students' desk to view art work and write comments. I emphasize the comment sheet STAYS with art work so that each student has a comment sheet for herself/himself that contains ALL their classmates' comments, clearly identified (hence no anonymous comments). I usually ask for specific types of comments, constructive feedback, etc., depending on the goal of the lesson.

4. Explain to class the logistics of moving around the classroom. I'm very structured, so I like a very organized method of transition! Regardless of whether students are seated at tables (with 3 or 4 students per table) or in rows of desks, I always give them a time limit (about 2 minutes), and everyone moves in  specific pattern/direction when I call time.

Outcomes - my classes always seem to enjoy this lesson. They stay focused and can't WAIT to read what classmates wrote about their work. I'm not sure how "constructive" all the comments are, but when several students write "I don't understand the topic of this cartoon" or "you're very artistic", the artist gains some useful insight. I always explain before the activity that they need to grow some "thick skin" to handle so much public attention and opinions, but it's not really different from public speaking. I'm also very clear that inappropriate comments will not be tolerated.

"Gallery Walk" is perhaps a misnomer for this activity, but I like it anyway!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Diane Ravitch is my new hero

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Diane Ravitch
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Compare teachers and Wall Street

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Crisis in Dairyland - For Richer and Poorer - Teachers and Wall Street
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Should I worry?

Friday night we watched "The Social Network" movie on DVD. We must have been the last two Facebook users to watch it. The movie story was sad to me, with characters who weren't particularly evil but hurt each other anyway, except no one was a victim. The very first scene of the movie - Zuckerberg character and his girlfriend in the pub - showed him with autistic spectrum qualities. The rest of the movie just reinforced that idea in my head. A young genius who can't relate to people, talking over them and around them, understanding and yet not understanding human relationships, listening and yet not listening to implicit messages.

Immediately after the movie, I watched some videos on the internet of Mark Zuckerberg interviews and concluded that the autistic spectrum qualities that I saw portrayed by the actor really didn't exist in the real-life person. I thought Zuckerberg's interviews showed some awkwardness with public speaking, but he seemed to answer questions with sincerity and full appreciation of the interviewer's ideas, implicit or otherwise. Just my opinion.

I imagine that the movie's mythological creators and creation of (The) Facebook are based in the reality of 19 year old young men with not-yet "fully connected frontal lobes" ("The Teen Brain" NPR article), genius talent, and luck. (Read Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers examples of the genius/luck combination.)

Zuckerberg told more than one interviewer that he didn't want his staff or himself to focus on the movie or to be distracted from their work. That sums up my feelings and thoughts regarding the current furor about teachers and organized labor. I've really just tried to not think about it too much because I don't want to be distracted from my work. But I really wonder now, should I worry?