Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Moment's Breath...

...On the path to Pedagogy.
Behind me: the treacherous, yet scenic trail that was this year. A shortcut that wasn't so short, but was well worth the ache.
In front of me: seemingly as many paths as there are atoms composing them.
I found practice, lying there at the bottom of a gorge.
I plunged down and pulled myself back to level ground with it between my teeth, breaking apart in my mouth, already moving to those of my cells that needed nourishment most.
Atop a vast plateau, I found theory, choking out of existence in the thinest air.
I climbed up just as it prepared to fall back into its vacuousness, carried it across my shoulders and revived it.
We walk together, travel companions.
I stopped at the tinkerers' shop, looking for technology.
I walked off with a compass and a staff and a horn to summon other travelers, who leave the light of their campfires in the forests through which they pass.

This is Path to Pedagogy, signing out.

PowerPoint: Lesson & Review

This is a collection of slides containing both a lesson I taught and a review game we played immediately following. For a while toward the beginning of the year, back when I was a little fresher, I would attach these sort of review activities to every PowerPoint lesson I did. The promise of them at the end, I thought, would serve as a motivator for students to pay closer attention to and engage more during the lesson. I found that this was, indeed, an effective incentive for students. Beyond the implications for classroom management and engagement, the activities themselves make wonderful learning activities and formative assessments. In the future, I will try to prepare review slides for every presentation I do on PowerPoint.

Review Game Slides

These are the slides for the review activity depicted earlier.

Technology in the Classroom

Here is a clip from a lesson with technology. I am conducting a review using an interactive PowerPoint game board. This is what review Jeopardy in the classroom can look like! Enjoy!

A Little Something I Worked On

I wanted to use this during the Macbeth Unit, but I couldn't get it finished. Maybe next year. Enjoy!

A Little Something I Was Working On...

I didn't get to finish this during the Macbeth unit. It is a movie I made of the first three scenes of act one. If I ever teach Macbeth, I will have it ready!


A New Sort of Storytelling

It actually had not occurred to me at the time to until now, but students can make great storytellers.

The seed was planted at the MACUL Conference, at the "Fill My Senses" seminar. We played a really interesting game during which we were to tell a collaborative story based on the images we were shown. Some of them were of cars on freeways, people overlooking bluffs, beautiful sunsets, butterflies, etc. In our group, we invented a story that was not only cohesive, but interesting. It started with Jack Kerouac and ended with our "selling our souls" for a ride back from some exotic destination. The activity was fun, but I thought no more about it until recently.

A little background: I am weird. Sometimes I refer to my brain as the Ben Goldberg wacky association matrix. Words, in addition to their semantic content, get lost in a sort of web of personally connotative associations my mind produces. Some associations, like that of school bus to grilled cheese sandwiches (white bread and Kraft American Cheese Singles) and the word "words" to Lima beans have been in my head since I was a child. Some came later.

Okay, so one day my mentor teacher and I were very bored and decided against my better judgment to try to explain the workings of the association matrix to her. I've done this only a handful of times before to people that I didn't consider very close to me--the invariable result is bewilderment or mild fear. To my surprise, my mentor teacher got it. Not only did she get it, she had one of her own (the only other person I've met with associations as tangential and bizarre as my own)! As we rattled off the word associations, we noticed that many of them had a culinary theme. So we started to play a game (this was one of those days during which all but 2 or 3 students tend to not show up).

The game was simple: one person imagines a meal, and the next creates the story of that meal. At first, just my mentor and I played, but soon we included the one of the students present that didn't think we were absolutely insane. As it turned out, she had some great storytelling abilities. By the end, we had all told stories we didn't know we could invent. I thought then of the MACUL conference. I have a new activity for my repertoire.