CREATING A CLASSROOM COMMUNITY: INQUIRY AND DIALOGUE Week 8 Lecture Summary 3 March 2008
Why “Community”? • The emphasis on establishing communities of practice builds on the fact that robust knowledge and understandings are socially constructed through talk, activity, and interaction around meaningful problems and tools (Vygotsky, 1978). • The teacher guides and supports students as they explore problems and define questions that are of interest to them. • Students share the responsibility for thinking and doing: they distribute their intellectual activity so that the burden of managing the whole process does not fall to any one individual. • In addition, a community of practice can be a powerful context for constructing meaning. In challenging one another’s thoughts and beliefs, students must be explicit about their meanings, they must negotiate conflicts in belief or evidence, and they must share and synthesize their knowledge to achieve understanding. • How People Learn, p. 184.
Students as Sense-Makers How can students be helped to seek for understanding? I would suggest that they need to be asked questions whose answers can be 'figured out' not by relying on memorized rules for moving numbers around but by thinking about what numbers and symbols mean. They need to be treated like sense-makers rather than rememberers and forgetters. They need to see connections between what they are supposed to be learning in school and things they care about understanding outside of school, and these connections need to be related to the substance of what they are supposed to be learning. They need to learn to do computation competently and efficiently without losing sight of the meaning of what they are doing and its relation to solving real problems.” M. Lampert (1986) “Knowing, Doing, and Teaching Multiplication” Cognition and Instruction, 3(4), 305-342.
What ideas for creating classroom communities that focus on understanding have you found in the readings, activities, and other material for this course?
CREDE: The Five Standards for Effective Pedagogy • Teachers and Students Producing Together Facilitate learning through joint productive activity among teachers and students. • Developing Language and Literacy across the Curriculum Develop competence in the language and literacy of instruction across the curriculum. • Making Meaning Contextualize teaching and curriculum in the experiences and skills of students’ homes and communities. • Teaching Complex Thinking Challenge students toward cognitive complexity. • Teaching through Conversation Engage students through dialogue, especially instructional conversation.
Class Meetings • Guidelines for Class Meetings • • Meet once/week at regular time (30 min 3-5 grade, 45 min 6-8 grade) • • Students arranged in a circle • • Honest/open dialog, focus on solutions • • Students don't accuse, put-down, or show disrespect to others • • No one solicits others to point out wrong doers • Active listening (eyes, polite, hearing other side) and do not interrupt • • Use of I voice, "I feel this way when...[don't accuse] classmates tease me." not "Johnny is teasing on the playground." • • Students lead (when skilled) to set up agenda • • Teacher final agenda arbitrator, but students could alternately facilitate meeting • See Donoahue, Z. (2001) ‘An examination of the development of classroom community through class meetings.’ On the course webpage for Week 9. • http://www.teachingstrategies.com/pages/page.cfm?pageid=40 • http://www.classroomcommunity.ecsd.net/
Theme-Based Inquiry Projects • Theme-based inquiry projects fit the criteria suggested in How People Learn: “robust knowledge and understandings are socially constructed through talk, activity, and interaction around meaningful problems and tools” • They also help to create community because students collaborate in working toward shared goals • Sharing and discussing what is discovered provides opportunities for Knowledge Building through genuine dialogue • Planning a culminating event, such as an Open Day or Parents’ Night, gives added purpose and makes contact with the wider community • Many ideas for such projects can be found on the internet at: • http://www.project-approach.com/examples/projects.htm • http://spice.ees.ufl.edu/theme.asp • http://www2.edc.org/CCT/research_inquiry.asp
Essential Questions • Essential questions spark our curiosity and sense of wonder. They derive from some deep wish to understand some thing which matters to us. • Answers to essential questions cannot be found. They must be invented. It is something like cooking a great meal. The researcher goes out on a shopping expedition for the raw ingredients, but "the proof is in the pudding." Students must construct their own answers and make their own meaning from the information they have gathered. They create insight. • Answering such questions may take a life time, and even then, the answers may only be tentative ones. This kind of research, like good writing, should proceed over the course of several weeks, with much of the information gathering taking place outside of formally scheduled class hours. • Essential questions engage students in the kinds of real life applied problem-solving suggested by nearly every new curriculum report or outline curriculum standards such as the NCTM and the Science Standards. • Essential questions usually lend themselves well to multidisciplinary investigations, requiring that students apply the skills and perspectives of math and language arts while wrestling with content from social studies or science.
Exploratory Mission to Mars This curriculum unit took place in a grades seven/eight class in a school serving students from minority groups that had traditionally been academically unsuccessful. The class participated in an international project to plan a (virtual) expedition for the exploration of Mars. http://www.marsquestonline.org/investigations/index.html While, together with other classes around North America, they investigated important topics, such as the atmosphere on Mars, the availability of water, and so on, this class’s particular responsibility was to research the conditions on the surface of Mars and to design the various types of vehicles that would be needed during the exploration. They also had to create one segment of the habitat in which they would be living while on Mars. Using heavy guage plastic sheeting, they had to make an inflatable rectangular prism of dimensions length 3.5 meters, width 3.5 meters, height 2.5 meters. In preparation, the teacher asked them to make a scale model.
Background The class is divided into 10 groups of students. Each group has to construct a scale model of the habitat that they will live in. The dimensions of the final habitat are to be length 3.5 meters, width 3.5 meters, height 2.5 meters. The model is to be built to scale 1/10: 1 cm = 10 cm. The teacher has bought a piece of plastic 4 meters long from a roll of folded plastic; if fully opened, the sheet would be almost 3 meters wide, but it is packaged so that there are 4 layers, each 73 cm wide. Problem How can the 4 meter length of plastic sheet be most economically cut so that each of the 10 groups receives enough to construct their model habitat? What is the minimum number of cuts necessary to achieve this? What are the dimensions of the largest piece that could be left?
Recalling the quote from How People Learn - “robust knowledge and understandings are socially constructed through talk, activity, and interaction around meaningful problems and tools” What did you notice in the Marsville math activity?
Further Ideas Inquiry-based Learninghttp://eduscapes.com/tap/topic43.htm http://www.edutopia.org/php/article.php?id=Art_631 Using the Internethttp://www.biopoint.com/msla/links.html Example http://www.smm.org/sln/monarchs/
NEXT WEEK PLEASE SIT WITH YOUR STUDY GROUP