It’s that district mandated time of the week again: workshop day. It’s time to triangulate the world of standards and outcomes with the world of working with students. Notice, however, how few “student choice” workshop days there are or “learning & learner focused” days there are mandated in any given district.
In scouring over all of the academic standards and essential learner outcomes thoughts instead drift to the Upside Down Academy. It’s model, structure, and standards are all quite simple.
"The best way to learn is to try and teach."
Pay attention to what you find confusing.
Come up with a way to make it less confusing / more fun for the next person.
It can be a blog post, video, dance, song, smoke signal, what ever.
In the upcoming unit I’m planning I am encountering something that teachers everywhere fear. No, not just Shakespeare; poetry. Go ask a teacher if they would like to go impromptu substitute teach in a poetry class. Go ahead. I’ll wait. No volunteers?
I’m one of those “weird” guys that actually likes poetry. Poetry has been a part of my life since before I was a teenager. Yes, for that long a time. But teaching poetry still gives one a sense of trepidation. So in the spirit of transparency I thought I would try a new approach in working with students writing poetry.
The process is one that comes from the writer Chuck Palahniuk. I recently heard him speak at the Fitzgerald theater in St. Paul Minnesota. He brought up a process of writing that he has spoken about and written about before he calls it “crowd seeding”.
To develop his themes, Palahniuk also conducts experiments in what he calls “crowd-seeding”: At parties he tells people what he’s working on and freely hands out his phone number to generate ideas….
All of his books are packed with this group expertise “so that you feel like you’re learning,” he says. It’s the Google-era technique of novel writing: social composition. “I’m simultaneously testing my material or premise with people and tweaking it,” he says. “Plus, it’s a fun game and gives people a role to play.”
Yesterday’s work was aimed at creating some “free write” beginnings for the class syllabus, but instead resulted in an interesting social experiment on anonymity, human behavior, and Google Docs. Yes, it will be the subject of a future post once the video is edited… For now the YouTube video below will be the starter text used in conjunction with classwork thus far in the first Socratic Circle Discussion being held Friday. Enjoy.