Today, I had the pleasure of sitting in on Larry Ferlazzo’s (Mr. Ferlazzo to his students) Theory of Knowledge class which is part of the IB (International Baccalaureate) program at Luther Burbank High School.
Last year, in February, I observed him teaching the same class, with a different group of students. This class is much larger, as the school is allowing for open enrollment in the class (students who are not in the IB program or seeking that certificate can still take the class). It had a different feeling because there were more, different students, but I liked that about it. The students required more “work” from Mr. Ferlazzo, which is a good thing, as we would not want him to get a “spare tire” from sitting at his desk. That said, I was still impressed with how bright and insightful the students were.
Students had been looking at the issue of bias in the study and practice of history. To finish things up, they were assigned homework to watch a film depicting a historic event that they had done some minimal research on. They were reporting back what they had seen in the class.
- Mr. Ferlazzo picked a student to put the other students into groups;
- The students then answered a series of questions about their movie;
- They had to pick out the best answer from their group to share.
Overall, it seemed a little rough, and some of the kids seemed to miss out on the last task, but did report out something when called upon by Mr. Ferlazzo.
My favorite comments: One student on Gandhi discussed how they are creating a character because it makes people want to see the movie which is the goal and that is not the same as writing history. Another talked about how movies were good because it’s hard to visualize what things really looked like in the past, and movies bring that to life. Common themes, movies helps us get emotion, the personalities. Others see it as a way to get details and facts.
Next, students were regrouped by Mr. Ferlazzo by moving some students, and putting them in dyads and triads (twos and threes). Once this was done, he had them come up with a list of 10 items to put in a time capsule, with no video, or voice recordings allowed. They were then shown a photo of a toilet seat, that is mis-interpreted as a “head-dress” and asked to look at another group’s 10 items, and misinterpret them. This had a variety of answers, paper money = toliet paper; Clothes are people trapped in time capsule; pictures are porn mags ?!?; Skeleton is a weapon. I accidentally got a snippet of Mr. Ferlazzo giving directions for this, so here is your chance to hear him teaching:
Finally, for assessment, Mr. Ferlazzo had the students do a poster with what they had learned how they would apply this in their lives. This where things came together, and the early work students had done paid off. Just coming into the classroom on one day, it wasn’t always clear what they learned until then. I was impressed with a lot of the work. Here is a slideshow of those posters:
Here are all the photos and video from my observation.
To my adult readers, Mr. Ferlazzo’s will be looking at this post, and responding to the questions below tomorrow:
Questions for Mr. Ferlazzo’s students:
- Did the romance in Titanic add “realism” (a real feeling) even though it wasn’t real?
What is more important in a historic film, the history or telling a “story”?
- Does having a point of view or opinion have a place in history?
- There was a recent public opinion poll done that said most people in he U.S. believe in “American Exceptionalism” that the U.S. is a special place and “blessed” by God. Many want to see this reflected in history books. Is there a place for this?
- Can history say someone is “bad” like Hitler, and someone is “good” like Gandhi, and be accurate? What opinions do you already have about history?
- Do you find the Mr. Ferlazzo an effective teacher? Why or why not?
- When I got home, I had to work with my son on a 5 paragraph essay as his end of unit assessment. Do you feel the poster was an effect and accurate end of unit assessment?
- What things did I leave out or overlook in my report on the lesson?