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EdCamp Philly!

Posted by phourigan on May 22, 2010

Halfway through EdCamp Philly and I’m having a really good time.

The first session I went to was called “Critical Thinking Through Questioning” by Deb Bowles of the Great Books foundation.  I wasn’t quite what I thought it would be, but it was interesting nonetheless.  It focused on the idea that we need to question our reading to draw out critical thinking in our students.  The teacher should ask questions to draw out the most meaning from the students.  There are three types of questions: Factual vs Interpretive vs Evaluative questions.

One of the cool things I thought I’d give a try next school year is to introduce a “text opener” at the beginning of class – a question about the students themselves that will ultimately link to the reading or area of study.  I can imagine with Challenge Based Learning this is a good introduction to the concept of Essential Questions.

The second session was “Student Perceptions of Teacher Expertise” by Dr. David Timony (@drtimony).  I really liked this one.  I had never really thought too much about how important it is for students to perceive teachers as experts.  Everyone knows that there are good teachers and bad teachers; what I didn’t realize is that students can separate out the “cool” teachers who are not experts and have a poor reaction to them.  They won’t work as hard for a teacher they perceive to be an expert, even if that person has an easygoing manner or doesn’t give a lot of homework.

It all comes back to the idea that the teachers who continue to strive to be better teachers get better results from their students.  Seems like common sense, right?  We have wasted opportunities with our in-service days (see my earlier post regarding my thoughts on in-service here) to actually get better at what we do.  Instead, we build resentment and alienate the people we’re trying to help get better.

It’s so rewarding to be interacting with people who are committed to making themselves better – everyone here qualifies.  If there were only some way to make the people who would never come to one of these actually attend, we’d be getting somewhere.  I hate to think that incentive programs are the way to go because I want teachers to get better simply because they want to be better teachers.

The third session starts in about twenty minutes, so I’ll post more thoughts in a bit.


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