Saturday, January 28, 2012

I went to Harvard!

I can't believe it has been so long since I updated this blog. New Year's resolution--update blog more often!!
One of the most exciting things I have done professionally, was being given the opportunity to attend Project Zero at Harvard last summer. PDS sends teachers every summer, and this past summer, sent five public school teachers as well. The experience was outstanding in every way and I am so appreciative for the opportunity. If I had to sum up what PZ is, I would say that it is "Thinking about thinking." Of course, this hardly sums it up!
So many times in our classrooms, we focus so intently on the content that we stay in the Knowledge/Remembering levels of Bloom's taxonomy, and we leave little time for reflecting, thinking, evaluating, creating, etc. Project Zero's mission is to "understand and enhance learning, thinking, and creativity in the arts, as well as humanistic and scientific disciplines, at the individual and institutional levels."
My professional development goal for this year is to implement what I learned at PZ and use thinking routines to encourage deep thought and reflection. These routines "make thinking visible" and help students cultivate thinking skills. More information about Visible thinking and thinking routines may be found here.
I am evaluating my questioning strategies and trying to incorporate questions that lead to deeper thinking. One way I am doing this is to put question starts in front of me (and the students) as a reminder. The bulletin board above is designed to help us "dive deeper".
The great thing about the thinking routines is that they may be used in any subject area or grade. One of the sessions I attended was "Artful Thinking". It centered on using works of art and/or music in the regular classroom to strengthen learning and understanding. The possibilities here are endless. I have used classic art pieces to teach and think about Bible stories. The I see, I think, I wonder thinking routine really gets students (even the quiet ones) involved and thinking.
Okay, so my stint at Harvard was only a week long. It was an amazing week that has changed the way I teach. We were taught by noted authors and teachers like Howard Gardner, Ron Ritchhart and David Perkins, among many others. There were people there from all over the US and world and I learned so much from everyone I met. I will continue to post ideas that I use or see used in my school.