Sunday, March 17, 2019

Designing Learning

Today's slice is a draft post that comes out of the Blogger vault. I originally wrote it in 2016.

Post it notes--in heart shapes-- were on sale at Office Depot last week. I had to have them for today's activity. Teachers at my school were charged with delivering a design question four (DQ4) lessons this week. Marzano's DQ4 concerns investigations. School-wide students are testing hypothesis, making a prediction, creating, researching, inquiring, evaluating and reflecting. That's the plan.

It is the end of a marking period. I know many of you have exams at the end of your marking periods. We don't have exams exactly.  Teachers do not give exams mid-year like we used to; we're not allowed. Now only select courses are tested mid-year and the tests given (most, end of course exams for half-credit classes) were created off-site by others and facilitated by teachers on campus this week. Many are computer-based. My students in English 2, are assessed by the Florida Standards Assessment (FSA), our state test, so now students do not have a mid-year assessment grade that figures into their course grade. Teachers are not "allowed" to create or give an exam, but we can give a nine weeks test or, an assessment. My mid-year assessment has been an individualized essay question I write for students based on their independent reading choices ( I wrote about them here and here). We will get to them, but not this week. This week, my PLC and reading coach planned other activities for us: computer-based, essay test practice and our DQ4 activity.

I am enjoying our DQ4 activity. I love the buzz of conversation and the swagger of challenge as students present and rebut arguments. We've been teaching argument and my PLC (our tenth grade English teacher team) decided to do an activity that asks students to argue for a heart transplant patient. Students, working in teams, would have time to create, argue, rebut and close their cases. One of the teachers in my group did a"Who gets the heart?" activity during an AP Language and Composition training. She shared the set up and we were off.

Getting to the Heart of Argument

I modified her original handouts to suit my students. I added a couple of articles to prime the pump (knowing I could use them to assess close reading/annotation) and I imposed a bit more structure on the patient profiles with help from sources I found online.

Patient advocacy groups crafting their arguments before appearing before the board. 

The Medical Board working on criteria for patient selection.

Today, revisiting this draft from two years ago, I am thinking about all of the ways we let kids lead the learning. During this learning experience, kids did not lead. They did design the experience or set the goals or have too much choice in terms of what and when and how. They did have opportunities to DO, to choose their roles and to research to craft their argument. Some performances in class are more guided than others.

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