Showing posts from October, 2017

Students and Reputable Sources Blog

Probably the hardest part of students doing research (and therefore, students doing SOLEs) is having them find reliable research. Kids think they’re great at researching because they’re used to being online, but often they just go with the first source to pop up. Many kids list Google as a source, and some don’t even click on a link, just using the information that pops up when they type in a question. They get frustrated when their search doesn’t yield results, and state there’s no information to be found, rather than changing or specifying the words they’re using to search. If this all sounds familiar, don’t worry-- there are many, many possible solutions and I’ve tried almost all of them. I actually usually did a SOLE for this at the beginning of the year-- my question was always just “How do you know a source is reliable?” This obviously works better with older students who have some research experience, but it might be a good jumping off point either way! If you feel your stude

SOLE: The Importance of Reflection

If you read these blogs regularly, you probably know by now that not every SOLE goes perfectly. To some, they assume that means that SOLE is ineffective, and they are no longer interested in using it. However, I’d argue that nothing goes right 100% of the time, and honestly if something does it’s probably not truly challenging your students. In addition, I’d challenge them to think about anything in life that goes well 100% of the time. I’ve made my mom’s recipe for brownies probably a hundred times in my lifetime, but that didn’t stop me from forgetting to add flour once. Failure is a part of life-- it’s what we do with failure that matters. But what do we do with failure? Typically, we don’t sit around and bemoan it (at least not for very long). The key thing to do is figure out what happened, and the easiest way to do that is a simple reflection. Walking through your steps, wondering what happened, trying to pin down exactly what went wrong. As teachers, it’s usually pretty easy

When Good SOLEs Go Bad

I did a lot of SOLEs in my classroom. The overwhelming majority were very successful--students were engaged, their presentations were interesting, and I walked away feeling great about our progress. That was the majority, meaning that there were some SOLEs (albeit a very small minority) that I walked away from feeling stressed and defeated-- students didn’t enjoy it or were off task the whole time, or the presentations were far below expectations. It happens. It happened to me more than once. However, there are steps you can take to minimize this, and I encourage you to not let one bad SOLE session ruin a great tool for you. I did find that the easiest way to avoid having a bad SOLE session was to have a great question, ideally one that the students had a hand in creating. By completing this step, students have an automatic buy-in into the process, and the question is more likely to be directly aligned with their interests. This helps raise the engagement level and typically the

Why Make Students Present?

I had very good luck with students most years-- I would develop a bond with them quickly, and they rarely were outright defiant or indignant over doing a task. However, there were a few things that, no matter how well I got along with the kids or how much they liked my class, led to an argument (at least in the beginning of the year--but more on that later). One of those was presentations. I don’t think any assigned task created as much instant dread as presentations, and so they were often the hardest part of a SOLE. If students are unused to presenting, they are nervous and often extremely resistant. Even if they’re not, most are uncomfortable with presenting something they have created in one hour. They push back, and often the initial presentations are less than stellar. Some teachers, when they’re new to SOLE, might question why we do this--when students are so excited to do the research and collaboration, why force them to present if they’re uncomfortable? My fir