This week I have been assigned to Henrietta Miller's blog Classroom Chronicles. Mrs. Miller is a 5th grade teacher at a private girls school in Sydney, Australia. I commented on her blog Comunicating from Camp. In this blog she tells about her recent camping trip with her school's 5th and 6th grade students. They take this trip to Galston Gorge every year. She says, "It is an opportunity for students to leave home comforts behind and try new things. To get out of their comfort zone and make new friends. To learn to work together as a team, to trust each other when trying new activities and to have fun testing themselves physically within a safe environment." They kept contact with the parents through technology by Tweeting and sending pictures when they had the opportunity.
"Hello Mrs. Miller. I am a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama. I will be summarizing your post on my blog. I have been camping quite a few times in my life. Once a year from 7th grade to 12th grade with my church youth group, and several times with my family. My step-dad grew up camping, so naturally he took us. About 4 years ago my parents and I went to Tennessee and I was only allowed to use my phone to say good morning and goodnight to my boyfriend. I was so mad at them for not letting me use it on this trip, but I understand now why they did it. I am constantly on my phone, and they didn't want me to miss out on visiting places. I looked at the pictures on the class blog, and this looked like a very fun trip! I know not many girls like to go outdoors and camp, but it gives them a different scenery and atmosphere. Keeping the parents updated via pictures was a great way to have them involved in the trip and technologically. Thank you for sharing this experience with me! I enjoyed reading about it and seeing the pictures."
Questions? is about ... you guessed it, questions! Specifically when teachers ask questions in the classroom. She tells that she read an article last year about a teacher who used a pack of cards with the student's names on them to call out who will answer a question. She admits she has used this and many other forms of randomly choosing students. What this activity does however, is put students in the spotlight and might embarrass them if they don't know how to answer the question or how to put their thoughts into words. She found a new questioning strategy. This strategy involves asking the question, counting to 10, then having the students turn to a partner and have them discuss their answers to each other. The teacher then calls on a student to give their partner's answer.
"I never thought about the fact that students stop thinking about the answer once other students raise their hands first to answer. I suppose this makes them feel defeated, like they don't have a chance to answer because they couldn't think of the answer as fast as the other students. This isn't a good feeling for students to have. I think that the wait time questioning strategy would help eliminate this problem with the students. I will definitely keep this in mind when I get my own classroom. Maybe you could make a weekly question and have the students write down their answer and put them in a bowl or box, and each day you choose a few, read them, and have the students discuss how they agree or disagree with those answers. Then there would be no chance of the student being embarrassed because no one knows who wrote the answers."