Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Slice of Life: Trying to make sense of lots of ideas

Every Tuesday, the writing community of Two Writing Teachers hosts Slice of Life. All are welcome to participate by linking up posts or commenting on other participants. 

You can't do it all. 

I feel like this should be a post couched in an apology and an excuse for failing to show up to the SOL community for the last few weeks, but here's the deal. You can't do it all. 

We've had vacations and proms and assessments and reports and college decisions--did you know that April is one tough month for parents of high school seniors who can't make up their mind about where to hang their hats for the next four years? It is. Trust me. Enough about excuses. I have a Slice of Life to write. 

Today I had the fourth of five science curriculum writing sessions, and we are approaching the gratifying part of the process when we are actually writing lessons. We have an understanding of all the standards, the dimensions, the cross-cutting concepts, and the content students should know and understand, so we can now envision the work that will engage and educate our students on a day to day business. However, I realized as we got going that within the units, even though we were designing them to be inquiry-oriented and student-centered, the keepers of the knowledge were going to be the teachers. I asked the facilitator about this, wondering to him about where students would have the opportunities to set learning goals for themselves and understand what they were expected to learn. Here's the conundrum that we are still working on processing through and figuring out: if we create discovery-based learning opportunities that begin with a phenomenon and a Question Formulation Technique (QFT) or something along those lines, how is it authentic if we are then telling students what they need to know and be able to do once we work our way through the unit. 

I don't have the answers, and you are all welcome to think about this and comment away. Honesty, I'm not sure there is an answer per se. It's just another wonder about the convergence of important educational concepts involving student agency, inquiry, goal-setting, learning targets, integration, and transference in an information rich environment where teachers are not expected to be the keepers of knowledge but instead the facilitators of acquiring it. Hmmmm.  Maybe you can't do it all!

Please feel free to brainstorm all of this with me!

Happy to be back slicing,


  1. OMG the business of this season that springs forwrd with new begonnings is s evdent in this post. SO SO SO many decisions and SO SO many newbeginnings for you and y your students and your kids this spring. You cannot do it alone...but together you can.

  2. You hit me on two notes. One about not being able to do it all. I feel you. And two, the new science standards. I'm venturing into that work as well. My initial thoughts around this is that QFTs allow students to process their questions around an experience/phenomenon and the writing is the documentation of their thinking. I'm just working through this work too, but I'm starting to see my role as one who provides content around their discoveries. Next year will be exciting! Hoping you continue to process your work in this on your blog.

  3. I have been thinking along these very lines lately, especially with regard to empowering students vs. engaging them. The key word shining brightly in your post is AUTHENTIC. Ultimately, it’s the difference between the teacher-centered and the student-centered classroom. And oh my, are there ever so many layers of expectations to meet. I often feel as if teachers are bound by them as if in straightjackets. Here’s to simplifying, streamlining, setting free, and taking baby steps!

  4. "Here's the conundrum that we are still working on processing through and figuring out: if we create discovery-based learning opportunities that begin with a phenomenon and a QFT or something along those lines, how is it authentic if we are then telling students what they need to know and be able to do once we work our way through the unit."
    I know I will be grappling with this conundrum myself this summer as we begin the work of exploring the science standards as well. Since you are ahead of me in this process, I hope you keep us posted on any gleanings in this area - as I will too! Mt brain is already spinning.

  5. OK so I'm guessing (from context) that QFT refers to Question Formation Theory not Quantum Field Theory or "quoted for truth" (debate).

    I taught college writing and literature and have been out of this area since I left high school. Still, every paper from essay to dissertation starts with a question. If you model question asking along the way and encourage questions, then they are well on their way to asking their own.

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