Adjusting to the new classroom space has not been too difficult. The kids are very excited about it because it is new. I'm excited about it because I'm able to extend the classroom outside the the 4 walls of Room 218 (still working on the right name for the room...). Today's activity had us trying out a modified EdCafe. I had 5 topics students read about yesterday that related to founding documents of American Democracy. As part of their research/reading, they had to investigate what the documents were/did, and when they came from. This info is easy to find. Additionally, I challenged them to identify how each of the documents contributed to the development of democratic ideas and how they were used by the "Founding Fathers" to help develop a new plan/constitution for the United States. This was not so easy. You can't just google the answer. It required critical and analytical thought. I believed that if they had an opportunity to share/discuss their thoughts and ideas about these topics that they could help each other to think more critically and create better responses for the question.
I asked for 5 volunteers to help facilitate discussion on the topics. They set up in different areas inside and around the classroom. The facilitators job was not to be the expert, but to encourage the discussion to stay productive and be more than just the what and when. I gave about 5 minutes for each "station" then allowed students to choose where to go next. After 25-30 minutes, the students were able to participate in discussion of 5 different topics.
I'm exited that the students were so willing to try it out, and for the most part it worked well. The ability to move around was refreshing for many students. The opportunity to learn from others was also appreciated. As with anything the first time you try it out, you quickly pick up on ways to improve the activity. For instance, I was planning 3 days for this assignment: 1st for reading/research, 2nd for the EdCafe, and 3rd for putting together a slideshow presentation of information learned. I found out that most students weren't able to complete the basic research needed on all 5 of the topics in order to fully engage in a higher level thinking discussion. They needed one more day for that. So, next time I try this assignment, I will allow for 2 days to read/research first. Then do the EdCafe on the 3rd day. They can complete the slide presentation on their own or while they read/research. That way, students would have spent less time on the what and when. They would have had more time for the How and Why.
It's a great start. One that not only I can build off of, but also share with others. This will be part of a future PD mini-course I'll be offering for our staff in the near future. Can't wait. #ChaseCuriosity