Monday, February 3, 2014

I Know It When I See It #edchat #engchat

This past week my students held a Mock Trial for Mark Twain. We had just finished Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Twain was being charged with Racism. Some students were prosecutors, other worked on the defense team, some were witnesses (characters from the story), and the rest were on the jury. I have been doing this project since I started teaching 12 years ago. It's a fun and different way to look at Twain's writing and discuss his intentions. The kids think it is a blast and it always gets them fired up.

I'm occasionally asked how I know my kids are learning. "How do you know they are actually learning what you want them to in class?" This is a great question, but such an easy one for me to address. When I used to stand in the front of class and talk to the students for 48 minutes, I had no idea if they were learning anything. When I gave them a test and a bunch of bubbles to fill out, I had no idea if they know the information or they were really could at multiple guesses.

Now that I focus more on guiding my students and allowing them the freedom to explore the ideas in groups, I can see what they are learning. Not by talking to them, but by listening to them. I look at the projects my students work on in class and I'm always blown away by their understanding of a topic we have discussed in class. By taking a step back in the classroom, I have allowed the students to take a big step forward.

When I'm asked about learning again, I can say that this is learning,

It's loud, messy, and I know it when I see it. 

That is learning. 

What does learning look like to you?