Day 19: Getting Observed

Friday, 9 September 2016

I spent about twice the time I planned building instruments this week. Ugh, I hate running behind. But I knew it was the right choice in the last half of 6th period when I realized every group had a working instrument. A highlight was one kid realizing that halving the length of a string sent the note up an octave. We’re ready to start figuring out the physics of music next week. My plan is to experiment with the instruments.


6th period’s instruments are all working!

Here’s one of the best-tuned flutes in the class:

But I think the highlight of my day was when Jill Gough (@jgough) visited my classroom to #ObserveMe. Her blog post is here: “#ObserveMe – the other side“.

Jill is the most amazing Sketchnoter ever, so I feel privileged to have such beautiful (and impactful!) feedback. I asked her to observe me on two issues: 1) am I setting up multiple levels of challenging work? and 2) am I setting the kids up to work independently? They’re the medium-term goals I’ve been working on. She pointed out a couple of things I hadn’t noticed:

  • I’d placed myself to supervise power tool use — so while the kids were all over the room, I was stationary. They had no choice but to work independently as it wasn’t possible to hog my attention for long periods. Several kids working on a problem set were struggling with a challenging final question. They came up several times asking me to help them along. I definitely wasn’t helpful to at least one of them — intentionally. But how do I help a kid break past their wall?
  • I’d set myself up with tools to help kids work independently — Jill noted that I reminded kids several times about a video I’d posted on Schoology for them to review, that I gave them options for work in case they finished, and that an activity with tuning forks at the start of class gave them an app to use to tune their instruments.

It felt great to set the parameters for an observation. I think this should be a thing for way more teachers in way more places. Thank you Robert Kaplinsky (@robertkaplinsky) for starting the #ObserveMe movement! Thank you Jill Gough for coming over at the end of the day on a Friday to observe a fellow teacher!

For discussion:

  • Read Jill’s post: #ObserveMe – the other side
  • I feel like I need to make a choice when building in class: 1) everyone builds the same thing so we get a better result on average or 2) kids design and execute their own thing so we get more variety. This year, I opted for #1 and I’m happy with the result. What are your thoughts?
  • How can I better plan building projects so I don’t run over time, *all the time*? Sure, I could double my estimates but that’s a cop-out. (I haven’t talked about it much here but building before learning is an idea I’m playing with this year — we’ll use the instruments to study the physics of music next week.)
  • How can I spread #ObserveMe around my school?

3 thoughts on “Day 19: Getting Observed

  1. Pingback: #ObserveMe – the other side – invitation and purpose | Experiments in Learning by Doing

  2. I want to be in your physics class!

  3. Pingback: Day 44: Finally Feeling Caught Up | Physics180: A photo-a-day blog

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