Another New Year Idea-Overheard in 5th grade

Posted: August 24, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

So, I’ve been thinking about another new school year idea. I know I already posted a list of new year ideas and plans. As I also mentioned just recently, my first thoughts aren’t always were I end up.

I’m definitely still on board with the digital portfolio business and the epals (I’ve made contact with a teacher on Crete), and I’m seriously making progress on how to work in some significant time for individual projects (maybe even blogging since I won a raffle for a ton of upgraded blogs with Edublogs-yet another reason to attend conferences).

My newest idea relates to this blog. I feel it is more part of a way I want to continue working and interacting than it was in the past. And, I know that once school starts, in a few short weeks, it’s more than likely that I will not have quite as much time as I do now. My thought is to have a “regular feature” as it were on the blog so that at least an idea for a post is ready on a regular basis. I’m thinking that a “things overheard in 5th grade” might be an interesting weekly-ish post.

For those of you who do not spend so many of your waking hours with 5th graders, it could be eye-opening, if not earth-shattering. For those more familiar with 5th graders, I’m sure you will recognize some of your students. For me, I think it will serve as an interesting way to think about who I am hearing, who I am listening to, and who is not being heard.

Of course, I try to make sure everyone gets a turn to be heard. I believe I am very aware of making sure boys’ and girls’ voices are equitably represented. I try to keep in mind racial, religious, etc differences in the voices of the room as well. But, how well do I actually do this? And what does all this talk add up to anyway?

My plan is this:

  • I will keep notes on interesting things I hear in class during the week
  • Once a week, or so, I’ll post some highlights or lowlights as the case may be.
  • I will of course not use names or any identifying information (beyond boy or girl).
  • Over the course of the year I collect data so that it’s almost like an action research project.

My hopes and dreams for this little project are these:

  • I have totally interesting students who give me vast amounts of scintillating material.
  • I manage to write some of it down on a somewhat regular basis.
  • I am able to think more about my own reactions to and interactions with my students.
  • I am able to analyze the development of our classroom culture.
  • I can keep up with this and have at the end of the year a picture in words of the year (wordle might be interesting here).

I’m excited already. Anyone else interested?

  1. Maggie says:

    As a teacher I was a complete failure with the immediate capture of student voice. I developed forms, clipboards, and sticky notes… no system worked well for me.
    It would be so much easier now what with the students themselves using video, blogs, photos, podcasts and such. The more you turn up the literal or metaphorical microphone on your students… and put that microphone right in their hands… the more of them you’ve got for later reflection. So much of what I would hope to capture would be done for me. But those incidental by-the-locker on-the-cafeteria-line voices are the ones that sometimes hold a lot of wit and wisdom. Does anyone have a successful way to share of capturing the voice of students when they think they are not being heard?
    And how does all of this eavesdropping transform the teaching in the classroom? Does it?
    Finally, after we take a reading on our respective classroom cultures, what do we do about it? How much latitude is there in curriculum and schedule to make shifts? Do we need that much latitude after all?

    • mseiteljorg says:

      I hear you on the failure of a system to capture student voices. I have tried a bunch of things for anecdotal recording too. Sometimes I can keep it up for a while for a particular student in need. Maybe I’ll do a little independent podcasting or flip recording? Maybe a rotating schedule of a few students who record something each morning before we get going.

      I was really thinking about those “overheard” comments and the class comments that are really memorable, for whatever reason. Perhaps just the fact that I’m looking for the standout comments means that the quantity will not be overwhelming.

      The last questions you pose are interesting to me. I like to think that I do make shifts all the time in response to students. I know I could do more, which is something I am aiming to do this year. Generally, I think I have had enough latitude to make the shifts that I have wanted to make. I feel lucky to teach at a school that has so far been supportive of my individual “pilot projects.”

  2. Carol says:

    You have an interesting plan at hand. I like that you will constantly be relfecting on students/self reactions and interactions throughout the year.

    All the best in your grade 5 journey.


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