Today we add another blog post on the subject of teaching methods. Dr. Yellin, an English and Writing Lab at The Founders Academy, answers the question, "How do you exercise the teaching methods of project based learning, debates, and Harkness and Socratic style discussions in your classroom at The Founders Academy?"
Here are two examples of the way I incorporate project based learning into my classroom:
1. As part of a unit on bibliographies in Writing Lab 2, I had students create signs reminding students of citation rules and why they are important to follow. Students then posted these signs around the school. This led up to the final assignment, which asked students to create their own bibliographies.
2. In my advanced English 2 class, students participated in a literature conference on King Arthur. In addition to reading the class text, students were asked to read a contemporary fantasy novel based on the Arthur legend. At the conference, students gave presentations that compared their novels to the class text.
In my English classrooms, I frequently facilitate debates that develop from students interests. For example, students read a story about a heroic dog-sled dog, and we discussed whether dogs can be considered heroes in the same way humans are. We also engage in ethical debates.
Most recently, I had my students engage in Harkness style discussions. Students were divided into two groups, and each group had to choose a discussion facilitator and a secretary. In response to a line from Romeo and Juliet, students discussed whether a bad action could lead to a good outcome. (Put another, way can the ends justify the means?) The discussion facilitator was responsible for drawing out at least one comment from each student, and the secretary recorded these responses on a work sheet.
The question we asked teachers at Founders: "How do you exercise the teaching methods of project based learning, debates, and Harkness and Socratic style discussions in your classroom at The Founders Academy?" This blog post on the subject is a response from Ms. Small, a Writing Lab and English teacher.
I use project based learning to assess multiple skills in one project and encourages high lever thinking and synthesizing of information. Projects with real world applications make schoolwork meaningful.
Harkness style discussions in my classroom encourage critical thinking and text-based analysis. I love this method of teaching because it transforms the work of making meaning into a collaborative, student-centered process. It also supports a positive classroom environment, where students encourage and support each other as thinkers and learners.
In our continuing series of classroom teaching methods, teachers at The Founders Academy were asked: "How do you exercise the teaching methods of project based learning, debates, and Harkness and Socratic style discussions in your classroom at The Founders Academy?" Today we the response from Mr. Manna, a mathematics teacher.
I play a game with my students called Grudgeball. This is a review game for any subject. Students get into a team and work on a math problem on the board. Each student has a white board and when they have the answer they are supposed to check with their team before they raise their board. The correct team gets to take points away from whatever other team that they playing against.
When we are in a general class setting I partner students up and we discuss how to be a good team member. Students who finish early are required to explain to other students how they got to their answer. If students within the group have questions they should discuss with other students in the group before they consult with Mr. Manna.
The question we asked teachers at Founders: "How do you exercise the teaching methods of project based learning, debates, and Harkness and Socratic style discussions in your classroom at The Founders Academy?" Today we the response from Mr. Waterbury, a history teacher.
Here is what I have to say about how the Harkness method influences the 6th grade history program.
Use of the Harkness method should be age appropriate. For 6th and 7th graders, my experience is that a strict application of the Harkness method is fruitful. However, there are elements of the Harkness method that they are capable of and consequently I have found that use of such elements are very constructive for learning and increasing student interest in the subject at hand. I therefore can confidently say that at these early levels of education, the teacher should make it a goal to PREPARE students for the Harkness skills that they will need in higher level classes.
In particular, the teacher acts as a surrogate for the student leader in a Harkness method, modeling how to restate, paraphrase, and invite students to respond to each other. In effect, this procedure is simply the Socratic method of class discussion.
The question we asked teachers at Founders: "How do you exercise the teaching methods of project based learning, debates, and Harkness and Socratic style discussions in your classroom at The Founders Academy?" This blog post on the subject is a response from Mr. Van Ewyk, a history teacher.
Mr. Van Ewyk:
In US History classes the main goal is to allow students the opportunity to interpret history themselves rather than read others' interpretations. This is done through the analysis of primary source documents and follow up discussion and activities that require students to articulate their interpretations. Students are asked to debate each other, the teacher, and sometimes themselves in order to consider viewpoints that contradict their own.
Also, students are provided topics of discussion with multiple interpretations and then divided into groups for the purpose of a Harkness round table discussion. Students also engage in projects, mock trials, and formal debates in order to examine issues with depth and understanding.
Today we add another blog post on the subject of teaching methods. Mrs. Strub, an art teacher at The Founders Academy, answers the question, "How do you exercise the teaching methods of project based learning, debates, and Harkness and Socratic style discussions in your classroom at The Founders Academy?"
The majority of our Art class time focuses on project based learning. Prior to beginning a new project, I introduce the new topic of study and encourage the students to share their prior knowledge of what's being introduced. I ask open-ended questions to open a class discussion and help the students find ways to contribute. I explain that all questions are welcomed. I remind the students that no one should feel afraid to share and be "wrong" because it's through discussion, making mistakes and revisiting prior knowledge that we can attain greater knowledge to build upon.
As we are working on projects in the class, we are continuously exploring how each person works with their materials to meet the project requirements. I foster ways in which each student may tap into their own individual strengths and creativity. I often encourage my students to ask each other questions and share their experiences. I explain that we are lucky to be able to all learn from each other. When I see a student reaching his / her goals and finding success, I ask them if it's alright to share with the class. This further opens up new discussions about their experience and the work they have done with their peers.
Our Faculty was posed the question, "How do you exercise the teaching methods of project based learning, debates, and Harkness and Socratic style discussions in your classroom at The Founders Academy?"
In the coming days, the "In the words of teachers" blog will highlight faculty responses. Today we start the series with Mr. Gaumont who teaches History at Founders.
In Mr. Gaumont's History 3 class, students examined the role that compromise played in ratifying the United States Constitution. Students delved into debate over some major issues discussed at the Constitutional Convention including slavery and how we choose our president. Students then took part in their own classroom debate on issues including gun control, privacy rights and levying of taxes. Students recreated the political spectrum as they examined parallels between Federalists & Anti-Federalists and our present day American political parties.
In Mr. Gaumont's History 2 class, students engaged in a Socratic discussion as they explored the Protestant Reformation. Students stood and answered questions surrounding the theses of Martin Luther and John Calvin as well as the Catholic Church's response at the Council of Trent. Students enjoyed this review format as it enabled them to better study for their Renaissance and Reformation Exam.
In our continuing series of teaching styles, our Faculty was posed the question, "How do you exercise the teaching methods of project based learning, debates, and Harkness and Socratic style discussions in your classroom at The Founders Academy?"
Today we'll learn from Mrs. Moore who teaches Science 1, Health, and Physical Education at Founders.
Science is one of those subjects that makes project based learning easy and cooperative. One of the students’ favorite activities are Station Labs. Station Labs involve rotating from station to station (table to table), performing the activity described at each station, and answering the questions on the activity card about what they just did. They work together as a group to answer the questions which leads to further discussion and understanding of the concepts. Each student is still responsible for answering the questions on their own in their lab book which helps with accountability of their own work and understanding.
The next station lab that the Science 1 class will be working on is about simple machines. Each station will have various pieces of equipment with instructions on how to build a specific simple machine. The directions card will also include questions for them to discuss and answer about the simple machine they will have just built.
Station Labs are a great way for students to discuss with each other their thoughts and ideas. Students can get help from each other to understand the different concepts and the hands on activity helps the students understand the concepts in a more concrete manner. The Science 1 students have done quite a few Station Labs this year. They work diligently at each station and have been a wonderful job with them!
Through various means, we at The Founders Academy encourage leadership among students both inside the classroom and outside of it. Students are always encouraged to think creatively, to share ideas and thoughts, and to be active participants in their own education.
In the classroom:
In using the Harkness Method, each discussion group has a student leader whose job it is to recognize which fellow student can speak and to make sure that every student in the group is given the chance.
Students lead Round Table discussions or activities and presentations.
They organize class projects, dramatizations, discussions, trips, and community service projects.
The students are often asked to work together in small groups and even with the whole class.
In the classroom, students help each other develop essays with peer editing and revision.
Outside the classroom:
Throughout the year student volunteers are called upon to help their peers: there is always a student ready to offer help. This is leadership in public service.
At The Founders Academy students lead by planning, organizing, and delivering school-wide assemblies.
Students lead by setting a positive example in how they carry themselves both in and out of the classroom in their day to day activities.
Students organize school-wide celebrations for their teachers and their fellow students.
They volunteer to spend hours of their summer vacation and free time to help the school community by moving furniture and helping maintain our school.
Last year, students took control of the "Hall of Presidents" display in the Humanities hallway.
Students take on important responsibilities in after school clubs, such as Drama Club and Journalism Club. Those who have more experience are expected to help train and guide those who are new.
They lead in the High School Senate and Middle School House of Representatives, representing the study body, organizing school events, and creating school policies.
“opportunities to achieve mastery (80%+) every step of the way”
“students move ahead at the appropriate academic level regardless of age”
“high expectations, clearly and thoroughly stated”
“creative thought, student participation, and active engagement”
“creative aspect of education provides the challenge”
“extension activities with every major project”
“higher level thinking skills – synthesizing information”
“applying concepts to new situations”
“think critically and creatively using standards and rubrics”
“perform real-world tasks to demonstrate essential knowledge”
"focusing on primary sources"
"getting students to develop their own ideas"
"ability to think abstractly"
"using both formal Socratic seminars and Harkness table discussions"
"develop arguments in a competitive setting"
"reinforce at home what's learned at school"
"real world applications"
"synthesize information, rather than just retain or recite it"
"insights into the text"
"understand what they are reading"
"hands-on investigations and labs"
"collaborate with others in scientific investigations"