Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pedagogical Flow Map

With the start of the second semester, I added a pedagogical flow map across the top of my white board so that students could track their progression through a unit and know where they were on the map each day. I made magnets that say "today" so that I can move those to the appropriate box of the pedagogical flow map each day. I can also write specifics on the white board about the area with the "today" arrow, basically making a flee map for the day's activities.
Some days involve more than one area. For example, the day displayed in the photo above has arrows pointing to both "concept development" and "skill development." Students were exploring the concepts that will develop into themes in Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, and students new to my classes this semester were developing their skills with Thinking Maps as they explored those concepts.
I reduced the pedagogical flow map to eight boxes by combining some areas so that it didn't appear too overwhelming for students. And practically, it now fits well across my white board. The eight boxes are concept development, vocab development, skill development, guided lesson, mediation & reflection, independent practice, review, and assessment. Since the unit will be working on vocab and concepts and reflecting throughout, I told students that the "Today" arrows would not be progressing exactly from one box to the next.
The pedagogical flow map is new this semester, but for the past two years I have kept a flow map for the daily agenda on the right side of my white board (see photo above). With the start of the semester I added just two simple magnets--a stop sign that says reflect and an arrow that says "We are here." Simply adding the arrow and moving it throughout the day allowed students to see that they were progressing through the day and allows them to know where they are at all times, even if they happen to daydream for a few minutes. My seniors were so impressed that I made magnets to keep them on track.
I hope that both flow maps will be a classroom management aid by helping students stay focused because they know what they are supposed to be doing at any given time. The pedagogical flow map also lets students know that I have a plan for each unit and that everything we do is connected and has a purpose.
Finally, the "reflect" stop sign reminds me and my students that their brains need a break throughout the daily agenda flow map. Yesterday, during 6th hour with my second semester seniors, I noticed that the noise level was picking up, so I moved the "reflect" stop sign to the middle of the white board and put the "We are here" arrow by it. Two minutes later, I simply moved the "We are here" arrow back to the appropriate place on the daily flow map. The students calmed down and got back to work. I couldn't believe how smoothly that worked.

Great Gatsby Introduction

Kristin Benson shared with me a few NUA strategies that she may use this week to introduce The Great Gatsby unit. Below are the ideas that she shared with her American Literature team.

I may use some of Rob’s quotes from the paper, write them on newsprint and have kids circulate around the room with them. I’ll ask kids to write a few sentences about the one quote that resonates with them. (Moving Quotes strategy)

Then I think I’ll do a circle frame map on the American Dream and ask kids to generate a 1-2 sentence definition after they've completed their circle map . Once they have their definitions I’ll ask them to draw a picture that is symbolic of their understanding of the American Dream. We can then post some of these.

For some background on the 1920’s/ Fitzgerald/ Gatsby: I think I’ll lecture a bit on Monday and then we’ll develop individually and as a class an A to Z taxonomy for this background information to review what they learned from the lecture.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Thinking Maps and Drama

This past semester English 10 teachers used Thinking Maps to help students with their reading comprehension in the two plays studied--Arthur Miller's All My Sons and Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.

One successful comprehension check involved students completing a multi-flow map at the end of each act of All of My Sons. Students analysed the causes and effects of the main conflict of each act and were able to build the next act's multi-flow onto the previous one. In other words, the effects of Act 1's conflict became the causes for the conflict in Act 2. This compound multi-flow is similar to the change over time continuous multi-flow that works for analyzing historical events.

The English 10 Shakespeare unit was shortened this year to fit into the 12 days between winter break and the end of the semester, so teachers did not have the time to repeat the continuous multi-flow process with Much Ado About Nothing. However, when I teach Othello this spring with my seniors in World Literature, I will have the students create the continuous multi-flow so that they see how the dramatic structure builds in Shakespeare. Traditionally, I have taught Shakespeare with the triangle dramatic structure of exposition (Act 1), rising action (Act 2), climax (Act 3), falling action (Act 4), and resolution (Act 5). With the continuous multi-flow, I will still be able to use those dramatic structure terms by labeling the appropriate section of the multi-flow map.

My hope is that students will see how Shakespeare builds his drama from one act to the next. The multi-flow map is also a great tool for discussing themes, so students should be able to see how Shakespeare's theme development is closely tied to the dramatic structure.

Logistically, I will have students build the continuous multi-flow in their notebooks and as a whole class on long sheets of construction paper. Since I teach three sections of World Literature, I will be able to roll up those sheets after each hour and un-roll the next hour's multi-flow.

The bubble map has also been used successfully with both English 10 dramas this year. Students were able to describe characters and find textual support for their adjectives. Sarah Jarrett recently used the bubble map as an assessment after Act 2 of Much Ado About Nothing, and here's her reflection on the assignment:

"The character bubble map assessment worked very well with my
sophomores. They were focused, were forced to work specifically with the
text, and came up with some great descriptors for the characters. I also
think it helped them feel more confident about their knowledge of the