Social Studies - We are a few days into our student-driven unit and things are going pretty well. There are still a few students who are a bit lost as to the process but they are learning quickly. What I am getting a kick out of is seeing every kiddo in class choosing to learn the material in their OWN way. While they have to do some planning, they have been effective in using their Goals Sheet and the Resource Page that they accessed in the Middle Ages Folder on Google Docs. Now, kids can learn however they choose, where they want (home or school) and at their own pace. As I look around the room, I see busy kiddos. They are not busy because they are given "busy-work" but rather they are busy with the process of learning the way they learn best. If kiddos are given the responsibility of learning, they will do so using their strengths and talents.
In class, kiddos are using web and audio resources, videos, books and other tools to learn the story of the Middle Ages. They are learning the way they learn best using the resources that most coincide with their learning styles. As far as the content of the Middle Ages, I want them to understand the story behind the facts and the "why's" and "how's" of the story. If the kiddos come away from this unit understanding the concepts and ideas of the way things were during the Middle Ages, then we will have been successful.
During class, we talked about the process: reading, watching video, looking at online resources, etc. in preparation for the Socratic Symposium in a couple of days. I reminded them that they would have to write a short summary paper of what they learned during their research and the conversation we'll be having. One kiddo, John, said, "Can we write the paper before the Symposium and use it as our reference during the Symposium?" Well, I hadn't thought of that but I did think it was a great idea. We then pitched that idea to the class, telling them that if they wanted to organize their ideas into their summary paper BEFORE the Symposium, they can do so, with the caveat that they can tweak the paper afterwards based on what they learned during the discussion. Brilliant! These kids, I tell you, they have some great ideas!