Reflection: Student Ownership Students Teaching Rhetorical Strategies (6 Days) - Section 1: Overview


Reflection on Activity as a Whole

This turned out to be a fantastic activity, and one I will definitely tweak and come back to next year.  When I first thought of it, my main focus was on coming up with a different way for the students to closely read texts—I think this activity certainly emphasized this point, in some cases by showing students weaknesses in their own reading once they had to teach it.  This concept alone of recognizing their own biases was an important one for the students, since these biases, I think, result in wrong answers on standardized tests.  It was also great to see how the students really identified the dominant rhetorical strategies on their own, and were able to come up with some clever ways to address them in class.  The general feedback from the students was that they really liked doing it--they were stressed at first, but felt fine after the first group did their presentation (on the side I talked to the first group, telling them that I chose them to go first because I felt like they'd be most comfortable doing this activity, and could easy the stress of the others--I think they appreciated the comment and it gave them a jolt to do well; it helps to know your students well and talk to them candidly!).

What I hadn’t thought of as much was just how many different speaking and listening skills this activity required of the students, and how they really learned a lot more in this area over the course of the year than I had realized.  Even the quieter students, when in charge for the day, were able to facilitate the class effectively—giving instructions, listening and responding to their peers, realizing faults in their planning and adjusting, etc.  To some extent this is a product of the bonding the class has done throughout the year, but that bonding, I think, is at least in part due to all the small group protocols we did early in the year that got everyone talking to each other.  As the year has gone on I slowly eased the structure of small group activities and full-class discussions, allowing the group to work more freely with each other.  I guess I’ve never done an activity like this that really gave me the opportunity to see the growth in the students on these elements. 

When I thought of this activity it was two days before we had to get started; having seen the results, there are certainly more parameters and things I will do differently to encourage even more success.  Specifically, I will model the lesson plans and reflections more clearly so the students have something to follow regarding the paper-portion of the activity.  As it happened, I could see how the students did a lot of the things I do, and also realized some of the challenges of teaching and just how much goes into the preparation of an interactive presentation like this.  Additionally, the reflections were more based on the organization of their lesson and how well it worked with their peers, rather than assessing the content as much.  I think it was a very valuable learning experience, but I think I need to nail down and model the written portion more clearly.

Regarding assessment, as with other activities I’ve tried for the first time, I will score these holistically, and rather liberally, with more emphasis on the actual class day than on the writing.  Most of the groups really put a lot of time into this, and did a nice job considering the challenges of teaching.  And, they all had a really positive learning experience.  I’d hate to ruin that with tough scoring, particularly when I didn’t have a clear rubric going in (and clearly I didn't do a good job of explaining the written reflections).  I have found that being honest with students about things like this tends to be appreciated.

It was also great to be a “student” in the class and do the work from that perspective.  I did all the homework assignments, sat in groups with the students, etc., and it was a great experience.  While there were a few moments where I slipped into teacher mode to clarify something, for the most part it was very informative to simply participate in the activities and experience the pieces as the students do (I have never taught any of the pieces we worked with, which made it even more authentic).  Of course, I never leave teacher mode fully, and the kids provided a number of great ideas for me to use in the future back in teacher mode.  Me being a student also added to the general positive culture of the class, where the students really had full ownership!!!

While this was a great series of lessons, I will have to think more about how well this could work with non-AP classes, or larger classes where I can't really pair the students (eight days was really the maximum for this to work--and another issue is that while AP is a year long course, most of our classes are only half a year, so I'm not sure I could take this much time away from instruction).  So, I may have to do it again for AP first with some adjustments before trying it elsewhere. 

  Wonderful Learning Experience for Teacher
  Student Ownership: Wonderful Learning Experience for Teacher
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Students Teaching Rhetorical Strategies (6 Days)

Unit 12: Rhetorical Review: Politics and the Environment
Lesson 5 of 5

Objective: SWBAT recognize a key rhetorical strategy utilized by an author by preparing a lesson on the particular strategy and teaching it to their peers.

Big Idea: A great way to deeply learn a topic is to prepare to teach it. . . and then teach it.

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