KTM User Pages
01 Jun 2006 - 03:23
The organization is overrated thread is alive again. This was a thread from last March in which I confessed that I've given up trying to get my kid organized, in spite of pleas from his teachers. Instead, I want him to learn some content this year (and he did! especially in science and math -- whether or not his grades show it). It's alive again because everyone seems to be struggling with organization, with their kids. It's something that every kid is expected to have, and nobody's does (at least nobody here). Kathy's daughter, for example, has had project planning challenges all year in 4th grade (projects are what you get when they aren't teaching a lot of content yet), and they're actually docking points because of poor eye contact. In my day, kids would have gotten points simply for refraining from wetting our pants. Those teachers really understood encouragement. Anyway, at work I've lately had the experience of going through an acquisition (i.e., we were the ones acquired). I've had my goals changed and my computer changed, and my system of self-organization changed, and my job title has changed no fewer than 3 times. The future has been murky for months. And I am a mess. I'm trying to get my arms around it; I've reread Getting Things Done a few times, and for the toughest project planning stuff I've even read Rapid Problem Solving with Post-it Notes (a darn good idea, by the way), but so far nothing is helping very much. It appears that having 3 job titles in a month has done me in. Change has come upon me, and it's knocked me off my feet. And it's not like it took very much to do it, either. So how can we expect Total Project Planning Awareness from our 4th graders? -- CarolynJohnston - 01 Jun 2006 Back to main page.
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oh wow! I have to go look! I am OVERWHELMED!!!! My desk is HORRIBLE!!! John (Ratey) told me his patients used to send him pictures of their desks. Pictures like this one. He said, "They like to show me pictures of their agony." -- CatherineJohnson - 01 Jun 2006
I'm planning on playing the Adult ADHD card next time I push people on Constructivism versus Classic education. I can't deal with projects. Period. It's a miracle I can write books, which are whopping big projects. I definitely can't write books AND oversee projects in 7 different subjects at middle school. Which reminds me....after this year's Death March to Algebra (Death March thru Algebra, actually) Ms. Kahl has now brought the whole thing to a shrieking halt so the class can spend 3 weeks (4 weeks?) doing a Project. It's a Count Stuff and Graph It project. She's been giving Christopher grades of 50% for forgetting to write labels. -- CatherineJohnson - 01 Jun 2006
Ms. Kahl received a raise this year, her third in the district, and, I believe, her third ever. From $58,000/year to $61,000. Add in another 10% for benefits. 9 months' work. -- CatherineJohnson - 01 Jun 2006
AND the parents do the actual teaching! -- CatherineJohnson - 01 Jun 2006
HEY! GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE! I JUST GOT PROBLEM-SOLVING WITH POST-ITS MYSELF! Looking at it, I realized: this is THE perfect book for teaching kids how to organize material for a research paper. -- CatherineJohnson - 01 Jun 2006
Organization is the new Content they teach at school. It's what they teach after they "de-emphasized" content. What really kills me is this weird reversal of roles, particularly in affluent schools, whereby the teacher babysits the children in the classroom as the children work on projects, trying to discover as best as ten year-olds can, how to research a history project using materials off the internet. And the parent teaches facts and figures, and actual reasoning about those facts and figures, at home. The teacher weighs in only when a child's discovery process was a bit too slow, and the teacher gives the child a poor grade for a late or incomplete project. And no second chances! And this is kindness on their part? Wait a minute! I was supposed to be the adult smiling down on my little ones while they did their homework at the kitchen table. -- BeckyC - 01 Jun 2006
The project method of teaching children this young is a hundred years old -- it sprang from the child-study movement at the turn of the century, and the drive to uncover a child's "Felt Needs". A child can only learn content for which they have a "felt need". So instead of a teacher standing at the front of the room telling kids they WILL learn the history of our great state and be tested on their mastery of facts, figures, and reasoning about those facts and figures... she stands by the overhead projector which is located well away from the front of the room, and slaps on a transparency with the new schedule for in-class work to be done by the children on the history project. It is the old "seatwork" writ large. And some internet surfing thrown in, makes the kids feel really grown up. Suddenly, children have a Felt Need to learn this content! And the options for exploring the history of our great state include singing, dancing, skits, posters, dioramas, models, speeches, diaries, relief maps, clothing, board games... who knew that learning about our great state would be so fun? Instead of the buffet model of teaching, I should call this the potluck model. Your child definitely gets to eat what they brought from home, and maybe they will get to enjoy what some of the other kids brought, too. The great thing about the project method of teaching is that cleanup is so easy. There is no mastery to assess. There are no tests to grade. Either the child followed the schedule, and sang and danced on time, or he didn't. Because the children had a Felt Need, a teacher can be sure they constructed conceptual knowledge of the desired content, without having to actually read or evaluate any of the project materials. Win-win! -- BeckyC - 01 Jun 2006
The "project" method of self-teaching ties in well with the self-discovery of math content. The kids in the classroom are busy and active, and isn't that what learning is supposed to look like? Kids are not supposed to soak up knowledge and be able to recall it accurately in the future. Being active and busy is important. The more kids throw dice, play with blocks, spin the spinners, and key in the proper sequence on their calculators, the more they must "know," right? Actually, looking busy is a very useful skill, one that will serve them well in the corporate world. Okay, I'll take off the dripping with sarcasm hat now. Seriously, I am so tired of doing most of the teaching at home. I'm so tired of being the one that insists that the poster contain facts, that encyclopedia's be consulted and that we don't just make it all up to fit the project. My daughter's teacher liked to point to her noisey, chaotic classroom during math as incontrovertible proof that Everyday Math was a huge success. "This" she would say "is how kids learn! This is what ALL THE RESEARCH says kids should be doing." -- LynnGuelzow - 01 Jun 2006
Reading about "Felt Needs", I am reminded of projects that we used to do, where we took scraps of felt cloth and cut them out and glued them to something. We had Felt Needs -- for blue, green, and tan felt. -- GoogleMaster - 01 Jun 2006
Welcome, LynnGuelzow! To Organization Skills as the content of modern schools you can add Social Skills, Internet Research Skills and last but by no means least -- Powerpoint Skills. That's not even to mention graphing calculator skills. -- CarolynJohnston - 02 Jun 2006
I will keep this list handy so I can check off the skills my daughter has mastered (fractions and division are not included on the list). My personal favorite is to spend a lot of class time in "morning meeting" and then "whole school meeting" so we can sing and dance for our trait of the month character education. I think internet research skills should be renamed, click-on-the-link-provided-by-your-teacher skills. -- LynnGuelzow - 02 Jun 2006
I was stunned to learn that my son had been expected to "use the internet" to do research for his history project. I'm not even sure the teacher provided links. My son told me he Googled. At home, I was talking him through using a search engine, and I ended up explaining that it's a lot harder to sift out the useful sites than ... perhaps a young teacher might think. It takes a lot of background knowledge to guess which key words to use for a search. And of course, so much of the (good) free information available on the internet, from historical societies and the government and enthusiasts, is really aimed at much older children, teenagers, and adults. It hasn't been pre-digested. Lynn, yes we are the ones who insist that the poster contains facts!!! -- BeckyC - 02 Jun 2006
Teachers don't have to suffer and struggle to make history come alive for students. Teachers assign students to write skits and perform them. I guess teachers are modeling effective project management strategies. And cynicism. Regarding the project method, did anybody here read about ed school portfolio projects? Perhaps young teachers think they are teaching project management skills our children will need to survive teacher education programs in college. -- BeckyC - 02 Jun 2006
I was browsing my copy of Forgotten Heroes of American Education by Null and Ravitch.. Charles recommended it a while back, and I ordered a copy... Bagley was worrying about the project method in the 1930s as soon as Kilpatrick formulated it (Bagley's concerns were prescient), and Kandel gave the project method a spanking in the 1940s. But something as managerially convenient for adults as the project method, will not die. It cannot die. It meets a felt need of teachers. -- BeckyC - 02 Jun 2006
Becky how is that book?? I've been contemplating getting it, but I'm WAY over-bought on books.... -- CatherineJohnson - 02 Jun 2006
worse yet, I found a $50 policy book I'm cruising....plus I'm now obsessed with grammar & those books are none too cheap -- CatherineJohnson - 02 Jun 2006
Wait a minute! I was supposed to be the adult smiling down on my little ones while they did their homework at the kitchen table. I love it! -- CatherineJohnson - 02 Jun 2006
It's true....there's a radical role-reversal in some cases. The teachers are "guiding" and the parents are teaching. -- CatherineJohnson - 02 Jun 2006
Suddenly, children have a Felt Need to learn this content! Vern Williams has a wonderful observation about the arbitrary and un-felt nature of project teaching. He says real discovery teaching happens when a topic comes up during class that the students want to pursue. In other words, the teacher is directly teaching the students, and a topic emerges from this activity that becomes a project everyone pursues. The idea of "enforced projects" is all wrong. -- CatherineJohnson - 02 Jun 2006
The kids in the classroom are busy and active, and isn't that what learning is supposed to look like? Kids are not supposed to soak up knowledge and be able to recall it accurately in the future. Being active and busy is important. The more kids throw dice, play with blocks, spin the spinners, and key in the proper sequence on their calculators, the more they must "know," right? It's a double whammy. First of all, a project approach gives you limited awareness of what kids are or are not taking in. And second, constructivists oppose standardized tests so the one tool that could support a pure project approach is unavailable to them. -- CatherineJohnson - 02 Jun 2006
I've mentioned my friend whose kids are in a superb private school. Four times a year the kids take an extensive standardized test, and a learning specialist meets with their parents to go over every single skill and content area tested. If a child is lagging on any skill at all, the school tells them whether they think it's due to the school's not having taught the concept or skill well, or whether for some reason the child simply didn't pick up on it as well as the other kids do. If that's the case, the child is immediately given remediation on that skill. When you have that level of assessment, you could use a project approach and make it work. You'd know what the students had learned. -- CatherineJohnson - 02 Jun 2006
Google Master - lol! -- CatherineJohnson - 02 Jun 2006