I was assigned the Middle School Matrix by Hadley Ferguson. Hadley Ferguson is a middle-school history teacher at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy in Philadelphia. Ferguson is co-founder of edcamp philly and a board member of the edcamp Foundation. You can read her blog and follow her on Twitter at @hadleyjf.
The first blog I read by Hadley Ferguson was a SmartBlog on Education Article, which was called A cure for "those days!". By "those days", Ms. Ferguson is talking about the days when students could care less about what you are trying to teach them. For whatever reason, all the student wants to do is "put their heads on the desk and zone out." The question Ms. Ferguson presents is, "so what will it take to move students from passivity to engagement, from boredom to curiosity?" In her blog, Ms. Ferguson suggests combining movement with social interaction to re-engage students. She then gives examples of ways she has incorporated this into her classroom and how it benefits her students.
I commented on Ms. Ferguson's blog by introducing myself and stating my purpose. I told her I enjoyed reading her article on incorporating movement into the classroom. I was glad to see that teachers do notice when students become glossy eyed or their heads start to bob. I told her I've seen many teachers who walk in, start a lecture and not stop until the bell rings. I agreed that students need to move, especially in situations where schools are using a block system and classes can last well over an hour. I shared with her that I hope to incorporate ideas that will keep my classroom energized when I become a high school math teacher. I thanked her for sharing tips on how to keep students moving and learning!
The most recent blog I read by Ms. Ferguson was How I Spent My Weekend!. In this blog, she talks about the rapid approach of the end of the school year and how she wrestled with doing a big Project-Based Learning(PBL)project because she didn't feel there was enough time. She began planning an assignment where the students would create a museum exhibit. Once the project was planned, Ms. Ferguson took her idea to the Buck Institute's website and put it in their Project Planner to see how well it measured. It told her what she already knew; that she was only pretending she had designed an assignment that qualified as project-based learning. She knew what she had to do, even if it was Saturday. She started over, creating an assignment where the students would collaborate and learn together because that is the purpose of PBL. She talks about designing the assignment around what would "hook" her students. She spent her weekend building "the scaffolding that the project needed". Ms. Ferguson didn't write this article to whine about having to work all weekend. Instead, she expresses her excitement as Monday morning begins, the students enter the classroom, and a real PBL project begins.
Once again, I left a comment introducing myself. I then talked about how much I like the idea of project based learning. I think it's a great way to get students engaged and collaborating. As a future teacher, I appreciated the example she gave of what teachers need to do to provide a learning environment for students. I told her I would be following her blog to see how her students do on their project. I thought the best statement she made was "we dream and build for our students!" I thanked her for her commitment to education and to the students.
I've included links for additional insight into Project Based Learning:
http://www.edutopia.org/Ten Steps to Better Student Engagement/
http://www.bie.org/What is PBL?/