Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Did I ask a good question today?

As an educator, one needs to always be prepared with a good question. As a student, one needs to always be prepared with an it right, wrong or indifferent. (saying "I don't know" can be interpreted as a response, too) As a youngster in the classroom, the questions asked of me were usually literal in nature...simply answer yes or no, true or false, provide a date, name two individuals, identify the country, etc, etc.... Never did the teacher say "tell me about whether you believe our country is right or wrong about fighting in Vietnam," or "explain to me why 18-year-olds should be allowed to vote." That would have opened the door to controversy....and a lively discussion of feelings, attitudes, perceptions, and justifying of choices. You never want to let that genie out of the bottle! (...or do you?)
We've come a long ways in the past fifty years, and the process of good questioning does promote good literacy amongst people of all ages. Good questioning results in students learning how to think, relect and in turn, inquire further with more questions. And once the flood gates are opened up, look out below....
Perhaps some of the problems we're dealing with today are the direct result of when past generations asked questions with that narrow perspective which too often required the lowest level of basic skills in their response and autonomous learning. So tomorrow, and everyday hereafter, I'll begin every good conversation with a good question. One which will provoke thought and deepen my understanding for others.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Notebooking versus Blogging...Or both?

I spent the fall of 2011 in the committed relationship of 'blogging'. It was a unique experience, and while few needed to notice, I was energized in my writings. It required a weekly discipline, reflecting on weekly assigned readings and tech lab discussions. Being a committed educator (and learner) in the 21st century, this was THE 'new' technology to embrace, communicating thoughts and actions in a means which demonstrated skill sets for today's social media.
No sooner had I become acclimated to this regimentation than I am introduced to the concept of 'the writer's notebook'. This concept requires daily contemplation about one's life; not in the style of a diary, rather a personal reflection for any number of topics. The intent is to continually write....a flow of ongoing thoughts without never let your mind pause to lose where its place feel the undercurrent of the moment....pulling words from the deepest part of the soul and not to break the ongoing current that transposes the imagination as when we were back in grade school sitting in front of the teacher, listening to her ramblings about good penmanship....and knowing mine was not at the top of her list..... (get my gist here?)
The writer's notebook has a valuable stake in classroom education as it provides insight on WHAT my students are thinking about. One recent reading compared it to opening all the doors and windows of a house so the winds could pass through and all obstacles would be transparent. It generates creativity on the part of my students, and sheds new light on mindful ponderings of young people. Having personally put this practice to use over the first two weeks of class, I am amazed at what avenues my mind wrestles with. Yes, I can see benefit in this concept....but I still like my blog for what it is. Therefore, I see great value in doing both!