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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Jake - Physics Class

On Thursday, I visited Jake B.’s physics class with Dan R., his coach. Jake had chosen to try the Cornell note taking system in conjunction with a three level study guide  – incorporating the Question, Answer Response outlined by Raphael. Jake has been helping his students find the most effective way of learning the material they are presented in order to prepare them for college. He presented this information to his students within this context. However, this time, he had the students apply this format to the physics textbook. Jake had decided to do this after observing the students struggle with the text. Since this class is a pre-college group, Jake is focusing on helping them develop their ability to read and comprehend longer, more context text – similar to those they will be required to read at the college level. He discusses the rationale for this lesson openly with the students as he begins the lesson.  Here is the study guide he displayed on his LCD and each student had as a copy.

Jake presented the lesson to the students, clarifying the level of questions, and then had them work independently as he circulated around the room providing individual support where needed – at the appropriate level. He is clear and specific with his support. He has  had his students work on prioritizing and summarizing their material for some time. Consequently, many of them took to this automatically and did an excellent job. The students Jake worked with are mostly those not as familiar with the text structure and text features of this particular text. Jake addressed this by suggesting what he did when he is deals with text.

The connection I made while watching Jake teach, was the  problem solving aspect of the lesson,  including the link he had included on his study guide for students to try out their solutions with a simulation.  For me, it demonstrated some of the new research on using engineering to teach problems solving as well as Costa's work on habits of the mind: thinking flexibly and striving for accuracy.

Dan commented on:
1.  the high level of student engagement
2.  the overall learning behavior of this group - he has many of the same students
3. the excellent integration of technology in the class
4. other possible opportunities for technology
5. the use of positive reinforcement to focus students and encourage appropriate behavior, i.e. the use of skype in class
6. the students' and teachers' use of strategic language applied to metacognition

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