Wednesday, May 06, 2009

 "Under the Apple Tree", oil, by Jan Blencowe

Teaching Journal

Day 138, Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I’ve been a teacher since 1965, but, amazingly, I keep learning the most elementary truths about how to do my job. Today, for instance, I learned that going over the material intensively for 10-15 minutes, and then giving an immediate quiz, can be an effective way to present new information. We did that today, and it slowly came to me (duh) that this kind of intense focus and immediate testing can produce quality learning. I noticed that the scholars were generally more alert than usual, and most did quite well on the quiz. It’s a simple and probably ancient teaching technique, but it all my years in the classroom, it had never occurred to me – or if it did, I paid little or no heed. (Actually, this is a little shocking to me. Have I been in a cave all these years???)


     On a slightly different note, thanks to technology, I also learned – or continued to learn – that using student models of fine writing as exemplars can effectively aid in the improvement of their classmates’ essays. This morning we spent nearly twenty minutes in two classes looking at student essays on the projector and discussing their good qualities. (We passed over the flaws. The authors will take care of those privately, and we didn’t want to embarrass anyone.) Looking at the writing on the screen, with magnified print, it was easy to point out specific highlights that the class could learn from and imitate. In a short period of time, we were able to look at a handful of essays that were just completed last night, thus learning some valuable writing tricks and also giving positive feedback to the authors. It’s a fairly new technique I’ve learned, and the impressive technology was a great help today.  

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