Changes in Practice: A Look Back at Summer Doc Classes

What a whirlwind six weeks! My first round of doctoral classes are done–physically anyway. I have one last assignment that I’m currently drafting, but for all intents and purposes this semester is in the books. What have I learned? Good question.

Going back to school to get my doctorate was an easy choice because I’ve known its what I wanted to do since I was fifteen years old. (I’m an odd bird in that respect, I think.) I remember distinctly that I was both excited and nervous to start the program. Would I be good enough? Can I manage my time? Am I honestly smart enough to pursue this degree? What I found out this semester is what I believe to be a ‘yes’ to all three of those questions, but it’s early, and I’m a good year and half, two years away from the dissertation. In the meantime, what I really discovered from this summer is a re-energized spirit to take into my classroom this year along with several great ideas. My head is swimming with new possibilities and practices! What have I learned this semester? Everything. (Excuse the hyperbole, but I seriously feel like I’ve been drinking from the fire hose.)

Below are some rough sketches of what I’d like to do in both by PBL classroom as well as my more traditional classrooms:

  • Use service-learning projects to develop a bigger and more important audience for my students and to foster more civic engagement.
  • Create an honest, dialogic classroom where students really command the conversation and develop co-knowledge.
  • Use a conference-style panel to change up project presentations. (Think ISTE or NCTE)
  • Using journaling more pragmatically to help set up future writing instruction and assignments.
  • Really discuss writing, its purpose, and its domains with my students.
  • Use Socratic methods during project proposal inceptions and approval. (Large circle think-alouds and questioning to develop a project’s purpose.)
  •  Use dialog among students as a pre-writing method. (Create specific roles for the discussion, but students become co-authors of knowledge before a writing assignment)

There is a great deal more than this of course rattling around in my head, but these are some highlights. The best part is–they’re all fairly easy to implement this year without breaking my back as an educator. What do you think? Could you see yourself using any of this in your classroom? Feel free to reach out to me if you want to dialog about any of these ideas more. (Twitter: @theprofjones)


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