Visual Scribing – Reflection

  • The Goal of this assignment was for students to think about how information connects both in logical and visual space. I imagined this activity as a summative assessment, in which students would apply their learning throughout a unit to produce a “map” of the content and ideas we had explored. For our class, my intention was to explore scribing as both teaching and learning tools.
  • The activity works well when students have a variety of materials to draw upon for inspiration. This could include notes, textbooks, slideshows, even their background knowledge. In our class setting, it was a little challenging to find the information quickly and synthesize it into a quality visual in such a short amount of time. Twenty minutes is not a lot of time to introduce a new concept and try it out. Had we done this activity at the end of a unit, I think it would’ve gone smoothly.
  • In our class we spent most of our time practicing the skill. Only the first five minutes were devoted to introducing the concept of visual scribing. Had I prepared some notes/materials for the class to draw from, we could’ve focused more on the visualization. Professional “scribers” have a lot of practice doing this sort of thing – they are professionals, after all. Scaling the activity down to meet the needs of a classroom is necessary.
  • Scribing, on this scale, seems to work best in groups. Some students really gravitate to the drawing/creating side of it, others excel at planning and organization. I think giving this as an assignment for students to work on over the course of a unit would produce higher quality results.

Understanding Racism through Music – Reflection

For this lesson, I chose to use music to understand social problems through history. I had students listen to Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” and reflect on the lyrics and how it related to the late 1930’s. After a short discussion, I had students listen to Kendrick Lamar’s “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst”. Students were then to compare the two songs and discuss what they say about the time period they were written in. If there had been more time, students were to find their own song that relates to “Strange Fruit” and write about how the two compare and what they both say about the time period they were written in.

It was interesting to get feedback on this lesson. I chose to use the Kendrick Lamar song because I wanted to test it before I used it in my classroom. I have since found a song that does a better job comparing to “Strange Fruit” and I think I will use that song for my lesson instead. I got a lot more hesitant and negative reactions than I thought I would and have since wondered if that would have been the case had I changed the modern day song to compare “Strange Fruit” too. I think my own bias on what my classroom looks like and the classrooms I have been educated in created a comfortability for myself in talking about really heavy topics such as the racism, lynchings, and violence that are sung about in each song. I think that is where many people’s hesitation came from and am interested in seeing how this lesson works in classroom. I think I needed to refine my discussion questions a bit further, but also know that many people were just shocked that I was sharing this song, which surprised me. As surprised as I was, it was good for me to get that reaction so that I’m aware that not everyone would take this topic the same way. Racism and violence are still very present and prevalent in our world today and highlighting people’s experiences throughout history should not be something we shy away from as educators. Creating spaces for students to hear people’s experiences around problems such as lynching and racism is important for them to realize how big of a problem it is, even if it does not affect them directly.

Reflection on “Mission US” Lesson

This mini-lesson, much like the last one, could have obviously been refined but I still felt good about how successful, engaging, and organized it was. Student engagement seemed to be a success, and although I gave no assessment it seemed like students learned at least something about the Townshend Acts, loyalists v patriots, and other Road to Revolution topics. My main goal of this lesson was to have students critically thinking about decisions that would follow either a loyalist, patriot, or neutral path, and based on the participation I think there was some understanding of which choices would favor each “path.”

I was able to sense that there is refining to be done on the organization of this activity, such as planning further ahead about which decisions to make as a class and which decisions are indifferent enough to make an executive decision on. After doing this mini-lesson and using Mission US in class again, I found that the “Plickers” option can be great for engagement but a verbal response from students is much, much more efficient. The amount of ground covered in the lesson when we used verbal response was at least twice as much as when Plickers was used, but the engagement was not quite as widespread across the class.

Timing and work flow was substantially better when working with a class of 7 as opposed to working with a class of 30. Honestly, though, I’m not entirely sure why this is the case since the amount of time collecting plicker responses from 30 students was barely more than collecting from 7. My best guess is that when I do the Mission US lessons with a full class I go into a lot more detail (or perhaps even tangents) because of questions the students have.

The most important thing I learned from doing this mini-lesson was feeling how efficient and smooth the Mission US program could be in a smaller setting. By using what I noticed and felt when doing this lesson with a small class, I feel as though I can at least somehow improve how efficiently the program can be used in my full size class setting!

Reflection: Federal Govt Revenue and the Deficit

The U.S. Department of the Treasury Source

Last week, I presented a lesson: Federal Government Revenue and the Deficit. I presented a PowerPoint with graphics, and background information, to give context to the featured Robert Reich video and text. For the most part, I believe I accomplished my goal. I felt at ease during the presentation and was able to cover the intended material. I did accidentally overlook the Reich biographical background commentary, however. In the future, I would perhaps make a note in the PowerPoint, so this is not overlooked. 

The teaching tools, e.g. the close reading guiding questions, were well received. I heard great feedback on the content of the lesson. It was new and interesting information for the class. I also heard some constructive criticism on the graphics. For example, it was suggested that my graphic on the rate history of the top income taxpayers could have been an entire slide. It could have not only been more prominently featured in the presentation, I could have spent more time pointing out the details of the graphic. I agreed. I was slightly concerned about time, so I would also suggest that I could have spent more time engaging the students on the close reading questions for the first Robert Reich video.  

Overall, I learned about putting together a lesson, finding thematic ties for the narrative, and recognizing the constraints of presentation without review. It is great to have this opportunity to hear from my fellow students and receive feedback.