Ms. Mercer, I love your week in lab posts, but…


I like to think this blog is pretty ecclectic (although this may be self-delusion on my part). I’ve gotten positive responses to a variety of different posts over the last few weeks from ones where I blogged about brain science and the education of children in poverty (wow, that sounds way too passive — how about poor kids?), to ones about using this blog to involve kids in my observation of their teacher, to one about what I was doing in the lab with kids (response here).

No one ever comes out to say they don’t like my more political posts, but I am regularly told by others that I’m “so political”, which means that not everyone is comfortable with what I have to say. I’m not going to argue with folks about this, but instead let readers know if you love reading about what I’m doing in the lab, but you’re not so crazy about the rest of what I write, there is a simple solution. I put all of my lab reflection posts in one category, “Week in Lab” which you can access in the sidebar, or subscribe to it on RSS. I’m not going to change who I am and what I write about, but I’m if that’s not what you want to spend your leisure time reading, I offer this easy solution.

If you hate when I gas on about what I’m doing in my lab, you can do the same by looking at or subscribing to the Politics/Policy category.

Week Four in the Lab


The week went well in general. I’m feeling like I have the basics down in general, but…some of my lessons have been off and need adjustment.

What worked

Sixth Graders did work setting goals. They had already written goals the prior week. This time, I had them view Wil E Coyote, The Fast and the Fury-ous, to reflect on poor goals and execution. Next, I introduced the concept of SMART goals, and had them refine what they had written last time so their goal was SMART.

Third graders did work on their VoiceThread on Friendship. They are adding questions about friendship, bringing higher order thinking to our project. Here it is:

“Learning experiences”

I’ve been using election and politics as part of the Fifth Grader unit on cooperation and competition. This week it was elections ads starting with competition in elections featuring “Daisy” from LBJ’s victorious run against Barry Goldwater, and the “John Smith” stick figure political ad from YouTube.  The next day featured cooperation in elections we watched Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America” and Barack Obama’s “Yes We Can”. I asked the students to respond about what was good and bad about competition in election ads, and then what was good and bad about cooperation in election ads. This was not properly scaffolded and required WAY too much inference for 10 year olds (especially language learners). Some kids got it, but many just wrote about cooperation and competition in general, or told me about the ads. I think it would have been better to do one of these a week, identify cooperation/competition in the videos, then the next time, discuss what was good and bad about this.

There were also issues with blog responses from Fourth Graders on risks on the Internet.  I’m less concerned because fourth grade is the first full year blogging. I did do a small bit of blogging at the end of third grade last year, but only a few times. Kids were supposed answer if the risks on the Internet were worth it. The answers were all over the place. Some saying what was unsafe, some saying how to be safer, but almost none weighing the risk against the benefit. Solution, they should have just been asked to list a risk, how to avoid the bad consequences, and a benefit, separately and then verbally review and question the class, is the risk worth the benefit?

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