I received an email yesterday that gave me an idea. Why not create an area for the trailblazers–that’s all of you in the course–to share your success stories? It was exciting to read about a great experience that resulted immediately after class and I thought it would be a wonderful source of encouragement…not to mention we can celebrate in public and strengthen our learning community across the network!

Here’s our first success story from the Capitol Hill campus:

Hi Dr. Brown,

I am proud to report that I did the “speed dating” exercise in my class today as a conclusion to our 2 week unit on immigration, specifically the Dream Act.  Students talked about their position, how their perspective may have changed, what questions they still have, etc.  Then we debriefed the exercise.  It was a wonderful experience and there was a lot of critical thinking going on!


Add your own story by responding in the comment area. Thanks C.R. for beginning the celebration!

5 thoughts on “Success!

  1. Ms. Hundley and I have a great success story to tell! Once upon a time, last week, our classes, Composition and Comprehension, joined for a block schedule where students created posters for various figurative language/ devices. They planned, crafted, and executed informational displays on simile, metaphor, alliteration, hyperbole, and personification. The grasshoppers were so engaged in the activity, it was as if teachers didn’t even exist. At the end of the exercise, students graded themselves based on a rubric of four categories with a possible four points each. I had some worries that students would automatically grade themselves a perfect 16, but the process was actually intellectually demanding for them. In their groups, the students expressed their own opinions on their scores, debated if they felt differently (citing evidence from the poster or how they interacted as a team), and in the end, came to a consensus. They then wrote a paragraph defending their score and what they could have done differently to improve it. It was an amazing sight to see and I hope that we can do more of these “block” classes. It also provides a wonderful alternative assessment with varied feedback, as this week’s reading recommends.

  2. Ms. Robinson and Ms. Hundley,

    In the words of my son, this is “fantastical!” I would love to hear about your post lesson reflection–like what was your major take-away. PLEASE! Let us know!

    Thanks for sharing!!!

  3. I introduced the idea of using visual mapping (advance organizers/mind maps) to VISUALIZE/MAKE EXPLICIT CRITICAL THINKING. Creating visual representations of thinking will allow teachers to model/teach it more explicitly, make it easier for kids to explain their thinking. It is a visual representation of a think-aloud. You mind map the connections a good reader makes in their head when they are reading. You map the categorizations a good student makes when they are synthesizing material from the unit. you map the prioritizing a good writer makes when they are planning their paper.

    I gave a fairly long and complex lecture on the history of Black Washington in my 12th grade DC History class. We then mind-mapped it together as a class in order to 1. synthesize and analyze the material, and 2. prepare to write a 5-paragraph essay on the prompt ” How did being a federal district benefit and disadvantage Black Washington”. The stated objective was to help them learn this strategy so that they could use it in college to study for a midterm/final or organize a paper.

    The kids resisted at first — they didn’t think it was necessary. They thought they could just sit down and answer the question. I asked them what their thesis statement would be and they responded, “Being a federal district both benefited and disadvantaged Black Washington”. And then they would proceed to list some benefits and disadvantages. I responded that this would be at best a C paper in college–IF they managed to pull of the organization without planning it.

    So instead we mind-mapped the essential question as a class on the board. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! The connections they were making! The analysis they were conducting! The patterns they were identifying! They were coming up with stuff that hadn’t occurred to me! Several students said “my brain hurts”.

    By the end of the period, they had thesis statements such as “Since the principal advantage of being a federal city was the protection of civil rights, Black Washington benefited greatly from being a federal city before the civil rights era. After the civil rights era, being in a federal city became a distinct disadvantage.” I then taught them how to mark the mind-map to mark/plan out the paragraphs of their essay.

    Students were excited, rearing to write their papers, and reported that they had really enjoyed the class and learned a lot.

    • AH,

      When did all of this happen? Did you stay up all night reading the book? This is wonderful! Yes, students will resist change if they feel more work is required of them, but once they realize that they actually enjoy the work and that the work brings success then they want more. I can’t wait to hear about the paper and how they use the map to encourage their thoughts…oh! And then they can practice one of the strategies shared in Idea #3…oh! And ownership can be increased by letting them know all 4 strategies and allowing them to chose the one they want to use.

      This is good stuff AH. Thanks for sharing!

      Dr. B.

  4. From Dominique Kelly at Parkside Middle School…

    After briefly speaking with Dr. Brown one evening following our DEPTHS class, I realized that I should take a different approach to analyze the last Anet Assessment results. It was ambitious and a last minute decision, but I’m the type of teacher who will try anything that will enhance my craft and make the learning experience better for the scholars. So I used the Appreciative Inquiry approach that we’d been discussing in the last few classes and added a “strengths” section along side the “weaknesses” on my data takeaway chart. As I began, I realized that both of my classes were basic or below basic on the Analyze Details and Drawing Conclusions standards on the test. I went along with looking closely at each question, and finally realized… They are drawing conclusions, but they are not sticking with the text! They are pulling in prior knowledge from their history class, where they’ve discussed the topics that just so happened to be passages on the assessment. There was my “Aha” moment, I was going to waste valuable time re-teaching them something that they already knew. It was my mistake as the teacher neglecting to teach them when they are drawing conclusions and analyzing details on assessments, they must stick with the details provided in the passage, and refer to their prior knowledge on that topic only if they need to use it. I was truly amazed; this discovery had me wondering if I’d been reteaching things they already knew after other Anet assessments? After using AI, I will now ALWAYS analyze and reflect on scholars weaknesses and strengths.

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