Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Semester Reflection

What changes have you seen this semester in regards to your education? What role did technology play in that change? What role did the constructivist philosophy play in that change? (constructivist-students becoming producers of information, students in charge of their own learning. What suggestions for improvement do you have for me next year? What are some of the things you would suggest I do again?

Make sure to include specific examples and expand on each other's ideas. Your feedback- honest and reflective- is important!


Maxe2012 said...

My education, this semester, has changed by a drastic amount. First, we use computers and that helps me focus. Computers are a freedom and last year, students weren’t really trusted enough to have computers. Computers are a great way to enhance education. Also, I liked acting out the plays that we read. That really helped me to remember them better and learn more. Acting them out was also fun. I really like the fish bowls as well. They really help me learn because they make real life connections to the books and they are fast-paced and exciting.
Technology played a huge role in the change in my education. In addition to allowing us to do the fish bowls, it allowed us to write essays in class. Of course, we could do that by hand but we don’t have spell check and my handwriting is pretty horrible. Also, technology made class more fun.
The constructivist philosophy is huge. It is never a good thing when only the teachers teach. Kids have ideas too and teachers can learn from them. I love it when students are in charge of their own learning. The fish bowls are a great example of this. They are students almost completely controlling the whole show.
One suggestion I would give is to give out the vocab on Friday rather than Monday, this way students have a weekend to study the vocab. Also, I like Cover It Live for fish bowls better than blogging and it would be great if you could use it more.
Keep using technology and Fish bowls. The vocab activities are fun and a good way to help the kids learn their vocab, so keep doing those.

ericak2012 said...

What changes have you seen this semester in regards to your education and learning?
• A huge change was definitely how we had laptops and how we would have discussions rather than memorization. It was interesting how different it was though because most of us have not been taught in this way very much before. In discussions, Smitty didn’t require us to raise our hands but most of us still did anyway, it was a different thing to get used to.
What role did technology play in that change?
• By using computers in class it allows us to find information quickly, if something doesn’t make sense, we can look it up.
What role did the contructivist philosohy play in that change?
• In class, we would have many incidences where we were in charge of our own learning. Smith would set guidelines, not rules.
What suggestions for improvement do you have for Smitty next year?
• I think that Smitty should give us a little less guidelines next semester. I know that this sounds crazy but this semester she controlled how many people were in a group, how the project should be done, etc. If she just gave us a few guidelines, like what something has to be about and when it is due, I think we could control our own learning even better.
What are some suggestions about what Smitty does again?
• I love how she plays music during class. I also love how she knows that most of us are good at multitasking and she has trust in us when we are.

Anonymous said...

Well, I’ve seen a lot of change in my English education. Almost all of my other classes have been just ‘listen and take notes’ classes. English has changed so drastically for me, though. Never before have I had someone who wanted the students to teach themselves, or discussed books so in-depth. English used to be one of my least favorite classes, because I dreaded the ever-so-typical spelling/vocabulary quizzes, the occasional discussions about the chapters that were never very good, or even the large projects we had to do. In this current English class, I’ve seen so much change. Instead of discouraging using technology like some English classes I’ve attended, we have our laptops every day, and this provides multitudinous resources for learning. Technology has drastically changed my learning experience, because it allows for students to have these resources all of the time. Never before have I been able to access so many sources by just using the school library, and my old school almost had twice as many websites blocked as this school, because this school believes in allowing students to learn. I think my education has benefited from this English class, because I can look at schoolwork in a new way and twice as deep as I was able to before I came here.
For next year, I suggest a story/poem-writing unit. I think that students need to be able to write something besides an essay or a short response. When, after school, is anyone going to write a required essay? It’s good to know how to write an essay, though, because some people may want to write letters to the editor or even become news article writers. Still, some may want to become an author, or part time author, and I believe it is good to know how to write literature early on, so that once you’ve decided that you do want to be an author, you’re equipped with the right materials to begin, if not finish, a book or poem.
I really enjoyed all of the projects that have been assigned in this class, especially with the vocabulary word projects. They were especially enjoyable. Writing poems, songs, referrals, even, is a great way to learn about your environment. Great job and keep up the good work!

hannahg2012 said...

This semester, I have seen many changes in my learning. I have improved my writing and have learned to actually take pride in my education. This class has changed my view as education as a whole. I doubt that I would be able to learn as well in a normal English classroom.
Technology had a massive influence in this change. It was easier to expand on my learning while being able to use laptops. It was nice not to be restricted to just what was in the classroom. The laptops helped a great deal. I learned how to use new programs for presenting information such as movie maker and wikispaces. No longer was PowerPoint or a plain old poster the only option.
Being in charge of my own learning was a big change. At the beginning of the semester, I was so used to having the teacher tell us what to do and how to do it. During this semester, we pretty much ran our own classroom. Smith left it up to us to decide how to do an assignment. There were very few guidelines. I felt like we had more freedoms. I felt that I was actually responsible for my own learning.
As for next year, I don’t have many suggestions. I personally enjoyed the many group projects that we did this semester. It was a good experience to work with others and collaborate on projects together. I felt that way we were helping each other learn.
Next year, I think you should continue using the laptops. I know that the use of technology in this class personally benefited my learning. Also I think that the fishbowls would be a good activity to carry on to next year. The fishbowls are a great way to have an organized discussion. The weekly assignments we did with the SAT vocabulary were helpful. I felt that I was able to actually learn what the words meant and not just memorize them for a test.
Overall, I think this class is a whole new way of learning. In this semester alone I have probably learned more than I ever did in a whole year of a regular English class. It has changed many of my views on education and my learning in general

bayleyk2012 said...

I’m really use to using technology in the class room. Like it feels weird to be without my laptop at all. I have gotten use to the ability to research anything when I need to.If Smith is talking about something I don’t know all I have to do is google it. I am learning to look at things from different points of view. I am not as “boxed in” as I use to. There are a lot more options out there than doing a power point. I’m learning to look at things from a different point of view and thinking deeper.
Technology has obviously played a huge role in this. If not for my laptop in class it would have been very difficult to participate in the live blogging. It os just so convienant to have the whole internet full of information at your fingertips. It helps you to see that there is more out there.Like when we exchanged papers with people half way across the country! Tell me that isn’t cool.
I love being in charge of my learning. Who knows how you learn better than you do? I believe that it really helps me to learn. Because Smith is asking our opinion on what to do. It also gets us more excited, if we are doing something we want to do we are a lot more likely to put effort into it.
Room for improvement? Well I guess there is always room to improve. I think that maybe just a calender on Smith’s website so that we can better keep track of when our assignments are due. Sometimes we have so many things going on that it gets a little hard to keep track. Even if you write it in your planner everyday. :D
I would really fishbowling again. There is so much to learn this way. You get to see the book through others points of view. It really just makes so much more sense when you have the whole hour to discuss something. I also really liked live blogging and the cover it live. Smith I like the way that you let us go. We can do almost anything, I have never had that freedom before. And I really like and am really beginning to use it.

robertc2012 said...

This semester has been so fast and so slow at the same time. We’ve read so many books, which is great. In previous language arts years of mine the class had spent two months discussing a book that is possible to read over the weekend. I’m not saying this applies to the books we’ve read; I am just saying that I like the fast pace. I hope that this will continue with “A Whole New Mind”.
I am excited about us being able to use the laptops, as they allow us to create projects and take notes and basically change the way we do things each day. I think the blogging is one of the best parts of the laptops; the fishbowls are neat in how they work.
Our class is lots of fun, and I’m glad to be in it. We have great discussions, even if they’re not always on topic. We have fun making videos and songs. It’s great to be able to do whatever we want for a project because this allows us to express ourselves and have fun with the project. I’m looking forward to second semester!
Thanks, Robert Carlson

carolynf2012 said...

I think in regards to my education and my learning there has been a great for the better. I think that learning in a new style has helped me immensely to grow in English. I can apply my own learning and thoughts to any situation and see the connections involved. I think that I have taken my learning to the next level by applying and understanding the information I am given.
I think that technology was a huge role in my learning growth. I think that with the ability to do everything via computer was amazing. I think that since everyday we have the opportunity to use technology and prepare for the future we have the opportunity to change the world.
I think that with the ability to control what we learn and how we learn it has really played a major role in my learning. I think that I probably could have learned as much as I did without a laptop but I think that if it was a traditional teacher-teaches classroom that I would have succeeded but not to this rate.
I would suggest that one improvement that could be made for next year could be the amount of instruction given. At the beginning of the year tell them what you expect of them and then let loose. They will find it confusing and challenging but I think it would help them grow. I think that the first time they need harsh criticism to do better and from there they will grow. Also, slightly more guidance in Macbeth would be greatly appreciated, but not too much that the students do not think for themselves.
I would suggest for next you that you continue to show the students new ways to present (wikis, movies, and songs) and I would also suggest you continue the vocabulary lessons the way you did.

KyleL2012 said...

This semester has been a wild one. There have been many changes that have happened over this 9-week period. My parents have really gotten a lot more strict than before, and I’m not sure why. They probably have trust issues or something. As for my education, not much has changed there. The use of technology towards learning has increased though. Technology has been a lot of my life lately, I can’t go anywhere without my music. As for learning, I have been learning a lot during this semester. Not just about school, but also about life and stuff.
Technology has played a big role as I said previously. I’ve learned to use technology a lot more efficiently. For me, technology has made a big change for me this semester.
The students teaching the class have made me think more outside the class. It’s better than a teacher just giving us information because we get this information for ourselves and immediately understand it instead of learning it and not understanding. The kind of learning we do is more efficient and we learn for ourselves, a great ability to have. It has also made me think outside of class, not just learn in class and forget about it once I leave the classroom.
What do you need to improve on? I can’t answer that honestly because I am not sure at the moment. Maybe more opportunities for cake? Like I said, this is more of a teaching style with little influence on what the teacher does right and wrong.
You should definitely teach like this again, the students learn for themselves and feel freer than in other classes. I like this teaching style and it makes this one of my favorite classes

mariep2012 said...

I have seen that I am more thankful for the education that I am given freely here in the US. I knew it before, just this class made me stop and think about it and be thankful. Also, onto the actual school work, I have felt like I have been challenged yet let this class feels so laid back at the same time. I didn’t think an easy and hard class could be combined into one until this year. We learn so much and still have the power to choose how we want to learn it. Also, last year, we just read books and did comprehension questions and then a test, and repeated that over and over again. This year we talk and figure things out for ourselves and actually find out why we are reading this book. Not only because it’s in the curriculum but a real reason. I heard that several times last year. Not this year.
Technology is a thing that is changing the past and the future right now. We need to be able to know how to do so much stuff with technology so we can make it in life. Before this year, all I could do on the computer was limited to email, Microsoft word, and Powerpoint. I didn’t know things like Blogger and Video maker existed! It has made the world of a difference to me.
I feel like it’s important that we know how to learn ourselves because we are not always going to have parents or teachers to hold our hands through it all (like college for example). I love how we get to do things ourselves and I appreciate the trust you put in us to do it on our own.
I think that all you need to do is keep it up. I want to learn in here and I want to expand my mind, a feeling I have never had prior to this class. It was always for the grades and for college and making it in life, which I still think is a big part of why I strive to do well. But now I feel like there is something more to it. The only thing that I didn’t like and what brought my grade down were all the little chapter quizzes that we took while reading. A major test is fine, just all the little ones were hard for me.
I definitely suggest that you do the This I Believe essays for your next classes in 2009, and continue doing fish bowls with us. I feel like I am actually accomplishing something when I discuss it. Overall, my experience in this class has only been positive and thanks for making our education not only great, but not as usual.

AustinW2012 said...

The major change that I have seen in my learning is the fact that I am now able to work and do things with fewer guidelines and less instruction from the teacher. At the beginning it was hard for me do say do a project on something when the only guideline we got was the topic. It is now much easier to think of about a thousand ideas and interpret which one will best illustrate the topic. I think the role technology played in this change was it gave me the opportunity to one, be more independent in my learning, and two, it gives me so many possible ways to display information. Even within each program on these computers there are thousands of possibilities to choose from. This is where the students come in because we choose which program will convey our thoughts the best and put information into that form.
I think the constructivist philosophy helped make us better learners. Not students but learners, when I think of these two terms now I realize that they are different to me. A student is somebody that can remember what they are told, but a learner is someone that figures something out on their own and can apply that skill or knowledge to their life. The difference is what the person can take away from learning and studying. Learning is forever, studying is temporary.
For next year I think you should keep most of the things the way they are. The two things I think you should change are the essay topics and the fishbowl methods. By essay topics all I mean is to be a little more direct and though I contradict what I said earlier I find it hard to write an essay without a descriptive topic. I know it may limit options on writing but it makes it easier to start. Also, for the fishbowl I personally preferred the normal blogging to live blogging because the comments I think were more intellectual as you had more time to think. I know you have to refresh and you lose conversations but you get used to those things after a couple of times. One thing I like that you did was on most of the projects you let us do anything we wanted. If makes it much more fun and easier to put your thoughts down. It also frees us from the chains of rubrics. I think the rest of everything you have done must have worked so it must be fine also.

stephaniel2012 said...

When it comes to reflecting on everything that’s happened in this classroom, I have no idea where to start. I mean, I feel like everything I’ve done here has put me one step closer to my goal. More than anything, I want to be a writer. I’ve been writing a series of books for over a year now, and I’m hoping to one day get them published. The chance to explore a whole new form of English though, was mind-blowing. I never thought that I’d be sitting in a classroom surrounded by laptops. Then again, I guess right from the very first day, I didn’t expect normal. The very first day of school, Smith told us that this was ‘not education as usual’ and that we had the ability to ‘change the world’. It really hit me that day. Smith also introduced the idea of challenging the system – something that we’ve been returning to periodically over the past four months. The projects that Smith faces us with are entirely different than anything I’ve ever tried in my life. She gives us the ending note, and we have to write the rest of the song, so to speak. Even in this last project, we were faced with a relationship trace. The rules of the game were simple: we had to show the relationships in “The Chosen”. My partner and I did an infomercial for our project. I guess it’s slightly different than the typical PowerPoint. But we got what we needed to into the actual project. It was just… different.
Technology plays a huge role in the deviations between this class and the next, but I don’t think that’s it. Smith herself is one of the defining influences in this most unusual of classes. I can’t imagine going on to tenth grade without her, because it was because of her that this class is as extraordinary as it is. She gave us food for our thoughts, and our minds ran off. We’re a talented bunch of students, and we challenge each other’s thinking, which is why our technologically featured fishbowls are as, well, excellent as they are. The inner circle is discussing out loud the sort of things that the outer circle is discussing via liveblogging. There could be nine or ten different discussions on the outside, and twenty nine other different points of view that you have even thought of before. It’s awesome when I’m able to see something in the point of view of someone else, because the way my mind works, I’m quote and quote “set” on a point of view normally, but I’m always questioning that view and buffing it until it’s truly what I believe. When someone can actually burrow into my hard skull and make me think like them is something that I hadn’t experienced until this year.
This class connects to me extremely as well, because before, I used to just go along with the old ‘ho hum’ sort of routine that my teachers would throw out at me. It’s like returning to the point that Smith gives us free reign. We’re allowed to explore different fields of thought that teachers themselves could never think of. Smith proves that many a time, adults second guess what freshmen are capable of – especially honors students. Especially honors students like 2nd period Smith English 9 honors class. We can teach each other tenfold better together, than any teacher would be able to standing alone. All Smith has to do is make us think. And I won’t deny, I have thought so much in this class.
I really don’t think that anything needs to be changed, because as the year goes on, it changes itself. We can change things. We do change things. Giving a set idea to change wouldn’t allow freshmen of next year and the years following to make changes of their own. Smith wasn’t lying when she told us that we can change the world. We’re changing the world by using laptops, and by being who we are. I hope that eventually, everyone will be able to use these laptops; perhaps not the ones that we’re using to wrought our ideas into virtual text, but just to use them. If people avoid using technology as substantial as this, they’ll be losing every experience that you get from this class, and this form of teaching. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the laptops, Smith, and individual thinking has changed my life. I’m not going to be the same person ever again. Yes, this class can change the world, but it can also change us. It does.

johnc2012 said...

What changes have you seen this semester in regards to your education?
Some changes in my education? Well how about total change. Not just in technology, but in the depth of learning. Instead of just reading a book, I had to make connections and think critically about what was actually happening and why the book is important. Like Smith said at the beginning of the year, “This is not Education as usual.”

What role did technology play in that change?
This semester I’ve had to adapt to a completely different style of learning English. I mean, in every other English course I’ve taken, it has been everyone in a row of desks, frantically taking notes by hand on grammar or some book and never going deeper. But this year, I’ve had to learn about all sorts of new things on the computer (Blogging/Live Blogging, wikispaces, ect.). I have never used email so often! And I have to say, even with the tech challenges that I have learned a lot. Every day I honestly look forward to class

What role did the constructivist philosophy play in that change? (constructivist-students becoming producers of information, students in charge of their own learning)
I think that the constructivist philosophy is a huge part in that change. I mean, not once did Smith ever hand out a packet of instructions on how to do something, or tell us specifics on how to do something (Which was pretty hard at first). Instead she told us to DO something. She saw in us that we not only didn’t want that kind of guidance, but that we had the ability to do without. So, I think the real change in learning was from the old “sit down and shut up” theory to stand up and speak out. Yell if you have to.

What suggestions for improvement do you have for me next year?
Some Suggestions I have for you? I am almost lost here. The only thing I can think of off the top of my head would be putting more influence on the vocab packets. That is where I struggled most this semester. I didn’t place enough importance or significance and wound up guessing on the quizzes most of the time. But I did like the projects.

What are some of the things you would suggest I do again?
I think the way the semester played out worked well. I liked the freedom that we had in this classroom, and I think that should definitely stay the same. I also like having music playing. Its
what I do at my house because it helps me concentrate.

Overall, I had a great semester. I had a great time

stellab2012 said...

Yesterday, during the fishbowl, the visitors began a class discussion about the style of learning in our classroom. I began thinking back to the beginning of the year when I would beg my parents to let me transfer to Creek because I wanted to be with my friends. As the year progressed, I began thinking less about having people around me at school and more about my education. I finally came to the decision that I wanted to stay at Arapahoe because the education is more creative, fun, and effective – it’s different. Smith’s class helped me come to this conclusion. I’ve never had a class such as this where I could walk in everyday and feel so comfortable in a classroom. When I tell my friends at Creek that we work on laptops in rolling chairs every day, they all tell me that I’m lucky, and I’m finally realizing that. I think my education has increased not only because of what we do in the classroom, but the classroom itself.
I think student involvement has helped as well. My previous classes have always been teacher-to-student, and although it took some adjusting for student-to-student interaction, I think the passing and sharing of ideas and the discussions we have with slight input from Smith is greater for my education. I’ve always believed that people take many different beliefs, combine them, and make them their own. That’s exactly what we’re doing in this class, but we’re sharing beliefs and education which we all separately know. The fishbowls we had this year really helped with this idea of student-on-student learning. Along with the fishbowls, I think the partner quizzes, collaborative projects, and just regular class discussions make this possible. “Knowledge is power” (Sir Francis Bacon) and with it, we can change the world.
I think next year Smith should have the same discussion with your class about grades. I know that we only had a one day talk about it in class, but I think it broadened a lot of perspectives. I use that talk with my parents sometimes, and although they choose not to listen to it all the time, it makes me feel better, to have a decent arguing point that’s hard for them to argue back. Next year, I think Smith should allow her classes to do more writing assignments such as the This I Believe essay, giving the students a chance to think, pick their own prompt, format, and be more challenged than usual. It will give them a greater outlook, especially when reading peers’ writing.
You’re doing good, Smith. Keep up the good work.

AllisonM2012 said...

This semester I have seen a drastic change in my learning. I am more in charge of myself and learning. Furthermore, I feel that what grade I get in a class or how much that I learn, is up to me; I feel in control.
Using technology helped me greatly. In class when I need know a fact or look something up I can just go on my computer. I can get information much quicker and then when another idea comes to me I can look something else up. Also, when we go off into the real world we are going to have resources like computer almost all the time and since school is about preparing a person for the real world, students should learn and get practice for many things that will come ahead in their future. Also, you have taught us many different types of programs that we can use. I believe that we will most likely need them in the future so it is a fantastic opportunity to become comfortable and learn about them now.
Being in charge of my learning has been the best thing for me. I feel, as I said earlier, in control. I then feel that whatever I accomplish is all because of me, and whatever I fail at is my fault and I can the take responsibility and learn from that mistake. Also, I feel like when I figure it out for myself I am not just spitting back information, but I actually truly know what something means. I used to feel that learning was a chore that I just had to do and finish so I could then go on and do something else. I don’t feel that way anymore.
My favorite thing that we did this semester was the fishbowls. I feel that I learned so much more and got so much more out of the books then if we just had a test or did worksheets about what we read. By discussing the novels and stories together as a class, each person was able to walk away that day with more knowledge than they had to start. We should definitely do the fishbowls next semester. They helped me learn so much more about the books that we read. They also got me thinking about big picture of life and how many books and other things connect to each other.
Also, I felt that I improved so much with my essay writing. Although I really disliked writing those three essays, they helped me so much on the format of writing essays and just bettering my writing in general.
One thing that could be improved would be, like Carolyn said, a little more guidance in Macbeth. It was a great learning experience to have to figure it out for myself but I believe that a little more guidance would help the students do better in the unit and understand the complex language that Shakespeare uses in his writing.

katieh2012 said...

My first semester as a student in Smith’s Period 2 class has been quite the roller coaster ride. We came in a group of quiet, understated freshmen (with the exception of Bayley and Erica); we are now a “rowdy” bunch who is not afraid to speak their minds or think for themselves.
Within just a few months time, education as I know it has been completely redefined. Education is no longer about how much I remember, but how much I can take away from this experience and apply to the real world. We were told that we had total control over what we learned, that the teacher was simply there for assistance if the need arose. To complicate matters further, the complete access to technology was thrown into the mix. We had access to the internet, laptops at our disposable, and we were introduced to numerous new ways to gather and present our ideas. These ideas were foreign to me, but with time I found myself able to embrace them. This new approach to education has not changed my learning but furthered it. I have not walked away knowing random facts like when so and so was born, but big picture ideas that benefit me more. This semester has transformed my learning from simply absorbing the information thrown at me to really and truly understanding. It has given me the ability to use knowledge to my advantage and to make connections between things that previously seemed utterly unrelated.
I cannot take all the credit for these accomplishments. I could not have done it alone, but thanks to my classmates I was able to achieve them. We all relied on one another for input, feedback, and help when the time came. Because of this openness in our classroom, my views, ideas, and perspectives were challenged by thought of those around me. I would never have thought of many of the things that my classmates did, but they shared their thoughts and helped me to think differently.
I enjoyed the free structure and diversity in the class. We did not do just written tests and quizzes, but presentations and projects (with little limitations), group quizzes, fishbowls, acting, discussions, individual time, the list goes on and on. It is well suited for all learning types.

PeterH2012 said...

This semester has been a semester of change. This has been my first semester in high school. My first semester in a public school, and of course, my first semester with “unusual” education was a brand new experience. The “This is not education as usual” poster was one of the first things I noticed, after the Pink Floyd poster, as I walked in to my second class on the first day of school. I knew at that moment, that this was going to be different than anything I had experienced before in school. I had been at a private school with one, maybe two, English teachers for 300 kids. I also saw the laptops. I had used laptops in class a handful of time for the entirety of my middle school career, and I was surprised to see them in class.
From the first time I used the laptops, I knew that this was the way technology was supposed to be. They open up so many opportunities to do projects in different ways, and even take notes in new ways. This technology made it possible to make a website instead of a poster, or even write and record a song instead of doing an oral presentation.
Not only technology, but being given the chance to use my friends as ways to learn! We taught each other not only about ourselves this semester, but also about the world. Never before had I been able to connect with students in my class, and even students in Virginia!
In many of my other classes, teachers required us to learn how they learn, instead of allowing us to choose our own styles. This class started out the same way, but that quickly changed as minimal criteria to make us think, but also give us a choice of expressing ourselves. The relationship trace was a good example of this. Assigning a project, but not telling us how to do it was a nice change, and allowed for a lot of creativity and variety.
One suggestion I have for next year would be to do another project similar to the This I believe essay, towards the beginning of the year. This would allow you to evaluate where the class as a total was in their writing, and would also give many a taste of what was to come throughout the next year.

leslieh2012 said...

my computer won't let me copy and paste, and i really don't want to retype my whole thing. I'll try on the computer at school tomorrow.

alexandriab2012 said...

This has been a great semester because I enjoyed many of the assignments and felt like I played a more significant role in or was more responsible for my learning. If I didn’t understand something, then it was my responsibility to come to you and ask questions. I’ve noticed that I enjoy learning more because it feels like I have more control or power over my knowledge and what I learn. If I don’t do well in class, then it’s all on my shoulders because I didn’t try, or didn’t use my resources in a smart or effective way. Unlike the hand holding by teachers in middle school, high school is a completely different ball game. That hand holding crutch has been removed and now it’s my time to shine and to show what I know not only to myself, but to the entire world.
Technology has helped me find a new and exciting way to love learning. While my other classes are interesting and teach me a lot about the particularly subject and the world outside the classroom, in this class, I’m able to learn English while also learning about and how to use ne w and interesting technology that can help me in other classes. Having a tech savvy teacher who is up to date on technology and current issues that teens are interested in is very important. One important aspect of using technology in this class was that we operated on an honor system where you trusted us not to do stupid or inappropriate things. In other words, we were treated like young adults, not young immature kids, and that is a goal teens strive for. Mr. Booth told us on the first day of school that we were going to be treated like adults and I never realized how serious he was about this comment, or more to the point, how that statement would affect me at Arapahoe or in this class.
What I learned personally, or what we learned as a class, was in many ways up to me or up to the classmates instead of you as the teacher due to the way the class was designed. The benefit I see from this design was that if we didn’t open up and think differently than what we were used to, then we probably would not have had learned as much as we did. Every student in our class contributed to the knowledge each of us learned. Whether we were laughing and joking, or clapping when someone came in to the room, or talking about evolution which was a serious matter, it made the class an experience like one that I’ve never had before. Smith you taught us how to think for ourselves and to think outside the box. While thinking for ourselves was a good thing, and it allowed you to step back and watch us, I suspect this may have been hard for you particularly when we really were struggling and just looking for the answers. As the teacher you already know all of the information you are teaching us, so it’s up to my generation of students to learn a subject like English and about technology that helps us apply what is required of us in the real world. It is up to us to change the world, no one else.
My suggestions for next year would include more class time to study the SAT words because I did not feel prepared or confident enough to take the Friday SAT word tests. More time in class to study with other people or activities that used the SAT words would be helpful. Also, and regarding the banned book that we each read, it seemed like we spent so much time reading the book and putting together our projects, that we ran out of time to present our projects or to discuss what we thought about our book in class.
I definitely suggest tons of blogging next semester because that was one of the best parts of the class for me. I loved all the discussions we had and really liked that we didn’t have to do the annoying raise your hand to be called on thing. I love to read and liked the fact that you had to read the book because otherwise you wouldn’t be able to participate in the class discussion and because participating in the discussions is a graded activity. Your class was different than anything I’ve ever experienced and the chance to use a laptop computer on a regular basis made the class even more terrific.

sammiet2012 said...

This semester I would have to say that my thought process has been expanded upon greatly. I no longer just find the answer to my questions, but I try to understand them. I try to then answer my own questions about why the answer is the way it is so that I don’t just regurgitate information, but I actually put some thought into it. Also I have learned to type faster too!
I would have to say that technology helped that process because it gave me the freedom to, on the spot, look up any questions I had that were going on in a discussion. Also the ability to get a head start on homework so that at home I could continue and not have to start over on a paper that I had almost finished by the end of class. Everything just opened up if I had a question.
Yes, because of one simple reason, you let people get what they want out of a topic. It may not be exactly what the lesson is about, but you give them success for learning outside of the box. As long as people think on their own they are rewarded. That is good because then the future of the people in this classroom will be certain… they can stand on their own two feet.
Next year I think that you should give us more opportunities to choose what books we want to read based on a topic that you give us. That way we enjoy the reading experience more. Or maybe you could come up with multiple options for books to read and the class votes on which book they want to read.
I think that you should keep doing fishbowls for tests because they are exciting and they help you understand the book better through discussion. I also think that the fact that you have two ways to get what you want to say out to the class is great. The fishbowl favors both the shy and the out-going.

chelseac2012 said...

What chances have you seen this semester in regards to your education? And learning?
This semester, my education has changed so much in this class. Before this class, I would approach things the same boring way. I’d look into a book but not really that deeply. I’d see things only on the surface, not gaining that much from our studies. Now, I think about things more and my education has grown. Though there’s not as much guidance, there’s more knowledge to be gained – I learn for myself. At first I came into this class and was given an essay with few guidelines. I had no idea where to start. Most of the class I probably sat trying to figure out what to do the essay on. But now I realize that the essay was just an introduction into a whole new way of learning.

What roles did technology play in that change?
I loved the technology! I spend so much time on the computer as is just fooling around. Being able to use a laptop in class is so much fun. It’s easier to access any information I need and it’s exciting to not have a lot of limits. The technology in this class is probably one of my favorite parts. It’s so different to be able to come into a class and grab a laptop instead of taking out a sheet of paper and pencil for notes.

What roles did constructivist philosophy play in that change?
Constructivist philosophy is a lot more interesting than sitting in class listening to a teacher rant on and on. There’s more interaction with the other students and it’s nice to get to know one another better. Plus, I really like how we teach each other. Every other class I go to, I dread because I’m sure the teacher is just going to lecture us more on something I’m not interested in. In this class, on the other hand, I can look forward to because we have less limits and are able to communicate with the other students.

What suggestions for improvement do you have for me next year?
For next year it would be nice to have the Macbeth quizzes with a partner – those were really hard to do alone. I didn’t like the SAT vocabulary at all (I’m just bad at vocab so that could be why), except for the take home and poem. I liked the poem; it was fun to be able to do something different – more hands on – with the vocabulary.

What are some of the things you would suggest I do again?
I enjoy how open you are as a teacher. I like how there are few guidelines but sometimes there are too few I don’t know where to begin.
I think it would be cool to have a few days to just do a tech study with the students, I know some aren’t as good with technology as others are. It might be nice to show them some tips and tricks for later projects in the year.

Anything else.
Not much else... Just to all the freshman next year: Have fun in the class and be creative.

Brianc2012 said...

When I first came into English at the beginning of the year I had no idea what “This is not education as usual” meant. Now at the end of the first semester, I know clearly what that means. This class has been very fun because we don’t just do worksheets and write on a piece of paper, we get to explore ideas through fishbowls and blog about what we’re thinking. I was not used to being able to do projects however I liked or to be able to share my thoughts with the world. Using laptops in class was an alien idea for me. Writing on paper with a pencil gives so much less of an experience then using a laptop to connect with the world. I like technology and we can do with it so using laptops is a very fun experience for me and I hope that it will continue. Most teachers would think it a bad way to teach if you let teenagers learn for themselves because all teenagers are bad, right? Wrong. When students learn for themselves and are in charge of their learning you learn more than reading a textbook
Next semester I want to continue doing fishbowls with BlogSpot or live blogging because I really like being able to type my ideas for others to see. I think it would be fun to try new techniques of blogging whether it’s Skype or some other program. I think next semester we should choose any book we want and then just do a report on it any way we want. If you pick a book that you are interested in you can connect more with what you are reading. I think it would be very fun if we could have an online fishbowl with kids from other schools around the world. This class has changed the way I think about education and that’s what makes this class fun.

jays2012 said...

This semester in this class has been the class that I enjoy the most. This isn’t only just a class where we memorize the information, but we actually understand it. The year started off rough for me because I didn’t totally settle in being in this class. I thought I would just fly passed this class like I have done in my other English classes. But when we started talking about how this class is not Education as usual and how we are going to change the world, it really changed my point of view on English class. Also, using the computers changed the whole aspect of this class. Instead of carrying around a huge English book, we got to use everything on the computer which was so interesting. For, me I love using computers and it was awesome to use them in a class I wouldn’t expect to use them. When we got to take control of the class, and teach other students, it was really cool. This class is just the opposite of every other class. I have learned more in this class this semester than I have my whole life. With fishbowls, it was really cool how we had two circles where we could intervene and ask and answer all the questions we wanted. We didn’t only get one opinion, but we got 30 different opinions.
For next year, I think we need some guidelines which have been discussed already. I was really confused at the beginning of the year, but after we started, it was really cool. I liked how you started us off really hard because it made us know how hard we have to work in this class. I started off the year really rough but it has dramatically changed throughout the year.

Laurao said...

I remember the first day, walking into second period English and thinking that Smith is one crazy nut for believing that we could change the world. Now, I understand how changing the world is such a big thing for her, as well as the rest of us. This semester, I have been taught as well as I have taught myself that I can control my own learning and understanding to think outside the box. I have seen that I can compare any two books and find some sort of a similarity between the two. Technology (mainly the computers) has helped me in so many to open up the different ways of thinking and analyzing. We are not limited to the usual poster and paper, we can use voice recordings, movies, power points, web sites, and other special effects.
One of the first blogs that we did back in September was the one about the difference of being consumers of information vs. being producers of information. I believe that most of us were consumers of information at the beginning of the semester. We were taught to study, memorize, and spill out the information on tests and quizzes, but never to really apply it to the real life or the other books being read. Now, we are producers of information, we take our learning into our own hands and do not let the classroom hold us back, we have taken our learning out of the classroom and into this crazy place called the world. The whole concept that Smith is teaching us is one heck of a deal to us and the rest of the world, because I truly feel that between these classes and the ones to come, we will slowly change the world. For next year, I think that when Smith assigns group projects, we should have more time and heads up about what is going to happen and how to plan. I suggest that Smith keeps the amazing discussing going, it is so much fun to converse with fellow classmates about topics that interest you and others around you. Thanks Smith!