Thursday, October 7, 2010

Turning Big Ideas into Thesis Questions

Today I finally got to work with Ms. K. second social studies class during seventh period, going in with the same lesson plan and handouts I'd used days before for the much larger fourth period group. It was tenuous because Lyons study hall was scheduled to begin midway through the period in the library next door, but we made it work and and because Ms. K's seventh period is a CTT class, we did it in such a way that neither room was ever without a teacher, with Ms. K. and I switching rooms at critical points in the lesson, and Ms E., the CTT teacher staying put.

Although smaller, this group was a little less enthusiastc about the righteous indignation the lesson is meant to generate, at least in the beginning. By the end of the period, however, they were coming up with some broad ideas and were beginning to see how the grahic organizer I made could help them ask ever narrower questions, which could then be used as thesis statements, or even better in my opinion, thesis questions.

As I did last time, I made sure to point out how I'd forgotten to write my narrowest question on the model worksheet as an open-ended question, rendering it unsuitable fir use as a thesis question. First I asked if the class could tell me why I thought it wouldn't work well and they were coming out with ideas that sideswiped the issue. Ms. E. chimed in as we explain open-ended vs. closed questions, and then they got it. The next step was to ask how it could be reworded as an an open-ended question and they were all over it, using How and Why instead of the Is there... I had stupidly used in my haste.

Toward the end of class, we began to work on student T's broad question, which was, "Why do we spend so much money on celebrities instead of helping the homeless?" The class was really starting to get into it at that point. I put T's question on the board and we began narrowing.

Ms. K. already had triangles posted all over her classroom from the work she had continued after I introduced this graphic organizer to her fourth period and now she'll be able to do more if them with this group. As the bell rang, I said, "Remember folks, anger makes a better term paper!" The kids filed out seeming to quietly take that advice under consideration.

- Posted remotely via mobile phone.

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