The Adventure Begins

More and more I am discovering that what I said years ago in an job interview holds true: I don’t accept the status quo. I don’t want to do something because that is the way it is always done. I have become a reformer.

I’m always reading, always learning, always ready to try new things. I have had the benefit of working in small faith-based schools under principals who trust me and give me freedom to try new things. It all started several years ago when I first stumbled across the idea of reading and writing workshop on the internet.

I’ve done lots of reading about workshop in English class: Nancie Atwell, Ralph Fletcher, Donalyn Miller, Penny Kittle. These are my go-to texts, even though some of them aren’t specifically about workshop. My most recent read was Using the Workshop Approach in the High School English Classroom by Cynthia D. Urbanski. I first started reading about workshop probably about six years ago. I’ve implemented pieces here and there sometimes successfully, sometimes not. But I’ve never let go of the idea. It makes sense to me. Which why I can’t let it go. I believe it can work for any subject, but it is going to look different in different discipline. The individual teacher makes a difference, too. What works for one teacher, such as Nancie Atwell, will not completely work for me. My understanding of workshop and my implementation of it is slowly evolving. The prevailing idea is that high school English must be traditionally structured. I do not believe this to be true.

Ideas such as flip class and gamification are becoming popular. I find gamificatino interesting, although I’m not convinced it has staying power. Workshop and flip class however, I believe do have staying power. I believe that I will eventually figure out how to do it effectively!

History is a subject that you can’t find much about for workshop, but I believe it can be done. History should be approached as teaching students to be historians. So workshop would be modeling how to think and write like a historian and then guiding students in practice of that thinking, reading, and writing. That would completely change students from being passive to being active in the study of history. I’ve tried to find materials about teaching history this way and haven’t found much. What would history workshop look like? It would definitely provide opportunities for integrating and being active. I really want to try to develop this idea.

There are so many new trends in education: workshop, flip class, gamification, standards based, place based, project based, the list goes on. There are a few that I am working on developing my understanding of, and hopefully will be implementing to some degree. In addition to the structure, there is assessment. I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with traditional grading. I want to move to narrative feedback and do away with alphanumeric grading.

I’ve already begun working on workshop and flip class. I’m learning about SBG and trying to decide where I fall on SBG or PBE and how exactly you do that. Project and Problem Based learning are pretty cool, and I’ve become intrigued by place based learning. These are things I want to explore further.

I’ve adopted a new catch phrase and mission: Authentic Learning, Authentic Assessment, Authentic Faith. This is what I want for myself and my students. So I need to find the best way to achieve this.

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