Week Four (or better said, the initial approach to Phase II)

Technically phase II will start this week, but with ETS test, I’d say week four is more of the pivot point.

Regardless, and whether it took two or three weeks, you likely used Phase I to develop a solid student-led culture and inculcate the raison d’être and ELOs of FYS.  You introduced the concepts complex (messy, or wicked) problems, and of course the inquiry mindset.

Many have also used some of the tools of inquiry, including QFTs and issue maps, and you’ve all helped them find self-regulation through the PsP.

Some allowed your students to select the messy problem for investigation, expecting their choice will foster investment.  I think the more interested they are, the more they’ll connect what’s coming with their own prior knowledge.

Despite the common elements, each of us experienced Phase I differently.  And if you’re like me (with more than one section) each section was different from the others.

It’s hard to say what I’ll do specifically in week four.  So much depends on what the students decide.  In the past what’s worked is presenting them with the four lenses and the readings and having them lay out the what, when, and why of the next four weeks.  I don’t expect we’ll see a solid week for each lens, rather we’ll see a fluid and iterative process of examination and reexamination.

We may start with the arts, but find ourselves discussing the humanities.  Later, as we’re looking at the natural science point of view it’s often the case that we’ll go back to the arts.

As long as you cover each of the perspectives well, you need not become a captive to the week long blocks shown on our roadmaps.

My rogue section (my 11:00), presents a problem for me and I’ll have to consider a different tack.  They haven’t quite rejected the premises of FYS (ie: student leadership) but given their lack of engagement and less than stellar approach to the social contract, my role remains larger than I’d prefer.

About half would be comfortable with the student-leadership aspect of the class, but the other half’s sullen and contemptuous approach to learning (thus far) continues to cast a wet blanket on discussion.

I took some direct steps to address the problem at the end of week two, and by week four I might be okay, but as it stands today I am not confident.

This is not yet crisis.  If I measure my 11:00 against my 8:00 and 9:00, they look terrible.  But if I compare them to what I expect for this point in the syllabus, they’re only a bit behind.  The goal in Phase II (in addition to modeling inquiry using the four lenses) is to set them on the journey to autonomy.   My 11:00 a.m. will get there, but they’re going to require a different equilibrium zone than my other sections.

One caveat:  although I like the interaction I’m seeing at this point in my first two classes, there are some warning signs that it’s too collegial!  They agree too much.  They seek affirmation from each other when they need to challenge each other.  (I’ve designed some critical thinking work for week three that should help…)

Thomas

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