FOR THE LOVE OF EDUCATION
Rolling Out a Lesson That MATTERS!
ME ~~ WE ~~ TWO ~~ YOU!
I continue to challenge myself with this Essential Question as a Secondary, English teacher: What are my students learning and how do I know? I have already mentioned in my PLE’s “Mission” that I take this question very seriously and hold it in high esteem! 21st Century teaching and learning has put a “new spin” on how I evaluate a variety of the lessons learned through the integration of technology. Below you will read through my rendition of a teaching and learning method and/or strategy that has accommodated my style of teaching and my students’ style of learning in numerous ways. Incorporating my SMART Board and the students laptops to roll out my lessons via the Me, We, Two, You teaching and learning model has enhanced the learning process considerably from one class to another.
Several examples of true creativity come to mind, when I think about how my students share and showcase their creative brilliance after modeling for them how they could use critical thinking and writing skills to connect major, historical events, like the Holocaust, with a Nobel Peace Prize winning text, like Elie Wiesel’s Night (memoir). I’m sure that we can all relate to these shining moments… when your students’ creativity reminds you why you entered this profession. Ever since I learned how to revamp my basic lesson plan with this catchy-sounding format- the “Me We, Two, and You”- after an extensive Reading in the Content Area training years ago, I saw my students react and interact in new and positive ways. Once I applied it from the angle I’m about to describe, my classroom was “reawakened” by a learning process that put an emphasis on how to model thinking (by both teacher and students), how to create products or “artifacts”, and how to collaborate in pairs, triads, or quads. I found it to be a sound-proof method over the years and…the great news is that… it continues to remain adaptable to the technology applications of any lesson I develop today.
Being a teacher for many years has reinforced the importance of modeling (1996, p.2) for my students the actual protocol for a particular lesson; this is a necessity before opening up their creative channels to go above and beyond just the protocol. My definition of the “protocol stage” refers to a student’s ability to follow the steps of the basic activities in a lesson through a model I can only provide. This enables me to assess their skills level before we get down to the serious business of connecting with the lesson and learning its content. At this stage, I execute the initial part of the learning process called the ME. This is when I model the lesson’s primary steps by doing a “think aloud”. Here, I introduce the lesson’s Essential Question and describe the strategy that the students will use to achieve the main goals of the lesson; I think out loud about HOW they will use the strategy to meet these goals and arrive at the question’s answer. Then, I display the materials (technology) and activities of the lesson and model how they will be referenced and integrated. The students HEAR my thinking; I model the thinking THEY will need for lesson at hand. The tool of choice, “back in the day”, was the overhead projector to show and activate my thinking about the essential question, strategy, goals, and materials. Today, it is such an advantage to power up my “new” SMART board and roll out the lesson with my visuals and links! What a glorious, “smart” invention to model the “hook” of my lesson! Meanwhile the students are attending to my interaction with the white board and listening. They know that the next phase is about to include them.
Students will feel …
The WE part of the lesson unfolds when we-teacher and student- interact through open discussion about the Essential Question in order to learn HOW to arrive at the answers/solutions for such a thought-provoking question. The students use a prediction model at this stage. They share their predictions with me and their classmates. The students will use their prior knowledge and previous notes to make the connection with the topic/subject of the lesson. Together, we use our resources (examples: textbook, story, essay, writing sample, handout, website, power point and/or chapter) to survey the material, excerpt from the material, formulate questions about the material (electronically), and find key facts/details to explain the significance of the material. At this stage it is never enough to assume the answers (p.3) to pivotal questions; there should be more than one way to go about answering the Essential Question. The questioning here is a part of the daily classroom exchange (p.3). As soon as the majority of the class has processed the information, offered enough feedback and stayed motivated and engaged, the expectation of collaboration naturally falls into place.
At the phase of collaboration, the students must willingly collaborate, critically think, and openly create an “artifact” or a product. The collaboration can be in pairs- the TWO- or triads and quads. The artifacts are usually something graphic (a graphic organizer, power point slides, chart), artistic (a collage, story board, cartoon, puzzle), written (narrative, poem, reflection), and spoken (student is speaker and reports back to the class, speech). Through this stage, creative collaboration is highly encouraged (p.7); the artifact presented by the students’ pairs/groups is either a creation in progress, due time constraints, or it is a final product that reveals creative brilliance. The collaborative efforts of the students pay off; they recognize how their final creation connects to the Essential Question of the lesson. Each student will play to his/her strengths but merge their talents. Even the reluctant students catch on when they find their strengths and determine the nature of their interests (p. 8-9). They not only processed the stages of the lesson, they presented what they created to solidify what they learned. This is one of those proud, “feel good moments” to witness as a teacher or student!
By the final stage of this teaching and learning process comes the YOU phase. The students are expected to practice self-responsibility (p.6). Here each student will do an individual reflection on what they learned and HOW they learned. They can speak about the role they played, take pride in their contribution or take ownership to what worked and what didn’t work. They can journal about their individual experiences or create, yet, another artifact that, singularly, proves that creative people need to take responsibility for themselves and for their ideas (p.6). The possibilities of how to attest to the fact that my students caught on to the progression of these lessons, both collaboratively and individually, are endless. Using digital mediums, like Google Docs and Edmodo, allow for shared written feedback. However, what I really love monitoring, nowadays, is the development of the students digital journals found in their digital portfolios that include a variety of writing samples that spell out…
This revamped teaching and learning process addresses the learning needs of both teachers and students who must LEAD in the 21st Century. For a teacher to really believe he/she can lead her class by using more innovative models or strategies, he/she is a firm believer in this statement:
“There is a new fervor in American education, a new creativity—driven in part by this generation of techsavvy students.” –Rod Paige, Former Secretary, U.S. Department of Education (2005).
We want to observe CREATIVITY at its BEST in the classroom and beyond….
Here’s a perspective that we need to connect with to move us forward in our lesson planning:
“Let’s Stay and Work Together”!
Center for Development and Learning. Teaching for Creativity: Two Dozen
Tips(1995,1996). Retrieved from: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tapscott, D. (2009). Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation is Changing Your World. New York: McGraw Hill Companies.
Technology in the Classroom. You Tube Video. 2011. Retreived from: http://youtube/4oEgxwLhvV8