With a wonderful mix of thoughtful people we explore how questions about “engagement”—even what it means—help us have productive dialogues about what good teaching and learning looks like and what might change in our schools. Each of us in this conversation are working to reconsider our assumptions and to recast our questions about student engagement in high school and beyond. Please add to this mix by listening in and adding to the comments below.
Learn more about +Todd Finley and his colleague Shari Steadman’s research into how student teachers at East Carolina University think about student engagement.
Take in +Kelsey Shelhart's comments about what it's like to be a seventh grader these days.
And listen to +Nick Perez explain why his unrecognized talents led him to leaving high school, and into the new life working at a technology start up.
Nick found our conversation and had this poignant, detailed response, which I can’t figure out how to excerpt, so here it is in full. Nick wrote to us:
I don’t think high-school is for everyone - just like college isn’t for everyone. This might not be a popular opinion, but I’d love to see more of a focus on alternative forms of education for dropouts, and less of a focus on forcing them to stay in schools where they don’t feel productive. A little background on how I formed that opinion:
I’m a high-school dropout. I wrote my first program when I was ~10 years old, and spent my time coding instead of doing schoolwork. Everyone knew that I was educating myself, but I was still treated like a troublemaker because of my grades. After being placed in a horrible, kind of humiliating special-ed program in middle school (I had someone following me around all day, making sure I was paying attention), I started skipping school because I felt alienated. I’ve never been allowed in a regular high-school classroom (I was in a small program for troubled kids, where it wasn’t unusual for a student to be out for weeks/months due to jail-time), which made me feel further alienated, and motivated me to skip class more often.
So eventually I left. I think there should be more of a focus on our unique needs, and more of an understanding of the fact that “unique needs” doesn’t necessarily equate to learning disabilities or behavioral problems - some of us prefer to work without a standardized curriculum, some of us prefer to work alone, some prefer to work in groups, some want complete guidance, and some just want independent study with extra help on-call.. and yeah, some are stubborn enough to reject any form of education that doesn’t meet their needs/desires/expectations, like myself.
I don’t regret a thing. I love self-educating, because I love freedom and self-accountability. If I fail to learn the things I need to learn, it’s an issue that I deal with on my own, instead of facing disciplinary action, or getting an “F”, or being placed in a box of “bad kids”. I have a job. I pay taxes. I’ve never had issues paying my rent. I’m still self-educating at every opportunity and always will be. Life goes on. I’d love to help other dropouts feel like they haven’t missed their chance.
Click Read more to see a copy of the chat that was happening during the webcast.
66:16 minutes (15.17 MB)
On this week’s Teachers Teaching Teachers, we have some of our current and former students on the podcast to talk about the high school-college transition. We are also joined by a couple of National Writing Project teachers who have been involved with the “Framework for Success in Post-secondary Writing” that came out a few months ago. These frameworks include this amazing list that we invite you to explore:
Habits of Mind
The Framework identifies eight habits of mind essential for success in college writing—ways of approaching learning that are both intellectual and practical and will support students’ success in a variety of fields and disciplines:
Curiosity: the desire to know more about the world.
Openness: the willingness to consider new ways of being and thinking in the world.
Engagement: a sense of investment and involvement in learning.
Creativity: the ability to use novel approaches for generating, investigating, and representing ideas.
Persistence: the ability to sustain interest in and attention to short- and long-term projects.
Responsibility: the ability to take ownership of one’s actions and
understand the consequences of those actions for oneself and others.
Flexibility: the ability to adapt to situations, expectations, or demands.
Metacognition: the ability to reflect on one’s own thinking as well
as on the individual and cultural processes used to structure knowledge.
What is College Readiness in Writing? and How Do We Get There?
Every year, we have far too many students like Ian. They aren’t the AP kids (though they might be), and they aren’t the students who fail our classes. They do OK, even sometimes receiving excellent grades in our high school classrooms. But when they get to college, they place into Developmental English classes, or worse (like Ian) they crash and burn and drop out of college. They fall off the bridge between high school and college. This site is devoted to local efforts to help more students graduating from high school place directly into college level writing classes, and importantly—do well in freshman composition. It is meant both as a resource and a professional community of practice dedicated to doing more to prepare our students for college and for helping these students do well once they are in college, for “college readiness” and “student success” in college are really two sides of the same coin.
Kirsten Jamsen whose affiliations include being the co-director of the Minnesota Writing Project.
Kirsten presented on the “Frameworks for Success in Postsecondary Writing” at the National Writing Project’s Annual Meeting in November, where she discussed the statement’s purpose, and recounted the process of composing it. We’ll ask her do some of that again. We’ll also use some of her questions from that session to guide our discussion on Wednesday evening: “What is your response to the statement? How might you use it to promote effective writing instruction at your school? How could this statement help you design thoughtful professional development?”
What does working in a school-based social network like http://youthvoices.net have to do with getting ready for college? Chris Sloan had a great idea. “Why don’t we invite former students who used Youth Voices and who are now in college to Skype in with their thoughts about what college is like these days … and if Youth Voices maybe does or doesn’t fit with what they are doing now?”
Two of Chris’s former students joined us on this episode of Teachers Teaching Teachers. Here’s Chris’s more detailed introduction to this week’s podcast:
It’s that time of year again when the seniors I teach are in that bittersweet time; they’re happy to be moving on but sad to leave some things behind. They’re distracted by plans for the future but also trying to live up to their many commitments. As their teacher I often wonder whether the things we do in my classes has value, if I’ve prepared them enough for “life after high school.” So I thought it might be an interesting idea to catch up with some of our former students to see how their first year is wrapping up. Was college all they dreamed it would be? Is it better than they imagined? not quite as good? Did the kind of work they did on Youth Voices, the digital compositions and the collaborative writing, prepare them for the kinds of things they’ve been asked to do this year in college? Judging by the 2010 Horizon Report, I think we’re on the right track, but there’s only one way to find out.
Here are a couple of Youth Voices alumni who join us on this podcast: Last year Katie appeared a couple of times on TTT, first as part of a discussion about the seniors’ plans for college, TTT 134, Four Young Bloggers Apply to College where she said things like: “I don’t think that as an 18-year old in college, it’s a life or death situation about whether you’ll be successful or not. The college application process is a stressful thing, but you have to keep it in perspective.” Katie also appeared on TTT 130, which was an extension of the Youth Voices discussion, “YES WE CAN: my experience in Grant Park on election day.”