Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Self-Reflection on the First Week of School!

By Mark Heintz

Linda Ashida has a way in making the people around her better and enthusiastic to make positive changes in their teaching.  For the past few years, Linda strove to have as many people Tweet everyday as a means of reflection.  At the end of last year, I talked to Linda about changes I wanted to make.  She brought up that fact that if I had been documenting my work daily the changes would come more naturally and daily.  This year, I have made the commitment to document my work.


The first day of school! I was fortunate to get white board tables for the room.  They are amazing and their functionality will be a future blog post! But for now, they are amazing!  I have done this lesson for several years now.  I have the student compare the Venus statue to Taylor Swift. This year, the students wrote their comparisons on the tables. They were so willing to try and wrote so much! If they were wrong, they simply erased it! I love this lesson and I feel I will continue to use it in the future.  It gets the students comparing (AP HISTORICAL THINKING SKILL...) and intrepreting historical artifacts for themselves!



The students read about paleolithic and neolithic societies. They learned about the importance of being able to manipulate fire.  In first hour, I had the students draw a world without fire and it did not yield the results I wanted. Second hour, I changed the lesson to drawing a picture that would summarize the lifestyle of paleolithic lives from the reading.  Then, students moved from table to table and wrote constructive criticism on the drawing.  When the students moved to another table, they wrote what they were able to decifer about paleolithic societies from the other student's drawing.



The students categorized words on small cut outs into Paleolithic, Neolithic of both.  They drew a Venn Diagram on their desk and sorted the information.  Then the students further categorized the information into the AP themes.  It was amazing! The students went up to the board to defend why a word was under a theme. Students were supporting their argument with evidence! It was a great way to get the students to see the changes and continuities over time between the two time periods.  


The College Board released some amazing materials that have students analyze Jared Diamond's contention that the agricultural revolution was horrible for mankind.  Having the students read his argument was an amazing challenge for the students.  First, they came up with his thesis. This took more time than I thought. He uses sarcasm and uses counter evidence to begin his argument. The text is only two paragraphs, but the writing is incredibly dense.  Next year, I need to spend at least two days with this reading.   It was a major challenge, but sets up the close reading that is required for the course.  I wish I had spent more time on this.  

Students took a short answer quiz on Paleolithic and Neolithic revolution.  The students were beyond impressive. They knew so much and took the majority of the period writing out their understandings! There were only a few misunderstandings that needed to be corrected, but that was conducted with very short one on one student meetings.  

Overall, this week I put a lot on the students.  They interpreted the texts. They sorted information. This takes a lot longer to get through information and I have had to omit a few things that I use to teach.  But, I feel that the students are understanding the things I want them to know more.