Habits of Mind

This Friday we will be able to tune in to watch the short videos John Howard’s classes created for the Halloween Movie Showcase.  In order to create these videos students must close read scripts and then plan the details of their videos based on what they have read.  They are also given specific criteria that they must consider when planning, shooting, and editing the videos.  Students collaborate with Brent Christensen’s theater students and use them as their actors.  Cross-curricular projects that use close reading and collaboration–this all sounds very Common Core to me!

Two weeks ago I was invited in to see some of the video shorts and to see John’s students using rankings to help argue which videos most closely met all of the criteria required.  Not only do students watch and rank the shorts, but they also use this experience to reflect on their own videos. Using a number system students rank each video from 1-10 and even WOW! on story, characters, setting, tone, and special effects (see pics below).  After ranking the videos they do a final ranking for their own video and what they consider to be 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.  This lesson hits Reading 1 and Writing 1 s as students must closely read a text (the “text” in this case is the video) and then support a claim (ranking the videos) based on evidence (how well the videos met the specified criteria).  At the end of viewing all the videos they reflect on what they liked best about their film, what they need to work on a bit more, what they learned from completing the project, and what they will change or do differently for their next short.  This added reflective piece is the perfect way to begin building in Habits of Mind, in particular metacognition (thinking about one’s own thinking).  Students need time to think about their own learning process, to think about successes and misses, and then time to set goals for moving forward with material.  Having a habit of mind means behaving intelligently when faced with difficult problems.  We can all build Habits of Mind into our lessons to help increase student achievement.  Review the Habits of Mind and us them to teach students to draw on their intellectual resources.  They will be more likely to persevere when they are confronted with the unknown or challenging tasks.

Thank you, John!  You reminded us that we are not only teaching content and standards, we are also empowering students to take control of their learning and enjoy the process along the way.

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