Ready Your Monocle: What do you notice?

I have a fascination with lenses. I find telescopes, binoculars, microscopes, and magnifying glasses to be cool — they reveal unseen worlds, sharpen focus, and provide clarity. My dad, who was a jeweler in a small town, wore a magnifying head lamp each day to quickly look inside of watches and see fissures in gems. And I remember when my mom got bifocals after years of bookkeeping. I thought, this isn’t really about growing older, it’s about more “wisdom.” Wisdom is gained with a closer look and inspection. In this same spirit, we introduce our newest Observation Challenge. Let’s see what’s revealed to you!

In Scaffolding for Student Success, you get front row seats to Lindsay Young’s class where students are building literary analysis skills. This challenge departs from the others in the series, since it allows you to see the comments others are making on the video once you enter a response. This feature provides viewers with a way to gauge their responses in relation to their peers — making the analysis seem more like a conversation. So let’s watch and become wiser as we get better together.

 

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Observation Challenge: Scaffolding for Student Success

Scaffolding Observation Challenge for Student Success

By looking closely at video together, we can all learn and improve our practices. In this Observation Challenge, we’re focusing on scaffolding as a strategy for moving students toward understanding a complex concept.Get Started Now Button

We hope this exercise helps you to hone your observation skills, and helps you translate and adapt what you’re learning on Teaching Channel to your own teaching practice.

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Observation Challenge: Can You See The Shift?

Observation Challenge: See the Shift

Remember our last Observation Challenge, where we had you Hear, See, and Find the Invisible? Well, we’re continuing this series and inviting you to join our next Observation Challenge. This time, you will look for the instructional moves that help teachers release the responsibility of learning to our students. We’re using a special interactive video player for this Observation Challenge, which should be really fun.GetStartedButton

We hope this exercise helps you to hone your observation skills, and helps you translate and adapt what you’re learning on Teaching Channel to your own teaching practice.

More Observation Challenges

Scaffolding for Student Success

What Do You Hear?

What Do You See?

Seeing the Invisible

 

An Observation Challenge: Seeing The Invisible (Part Three)

Editor’s Note: This is Part 3 of a three-part Observation Exercise. Each exercise is a stand alone experience — do one or all three. Join in now! 

FINDING AN OBSERVATION FOCUS: SEEING THE INVISIBLE

This third exercise is aimed at challenging us to really look beneath the surface. Watching Ms. Brewer will help us uncover how a master teacher takes something complex and makes it look so easy. Our learning purpose in this exercise is to see the relationship between implicit instructional moves and the explicit learning that occurs because of them.

STEP 1: Watch this Uncut Classroom* Video

To begin, let’s watch this 5-minute segment from the end of Ms. Brewer’s lesson, “Analyzing Texts.” If you’ve done the previous exercises, I’m sure you’ll find yourself paying attention to what you see and what you hear. Remember that by focusing on fewer facets of a lesson while observing can help us let go of watching to replicate a strategy. Try to uncover the deeper, more deliberate teaching moves.

Take Notes: While watching this Uncut Classroom video, post your observations in the comments section or download the Observational Worksheet Seeing The Invisible. Don’t forget to include the time code in your comments.

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An Observation Challenge: What Do You See (Part Two)

Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 of a three-part Observation Exercise. Each exercise is a stand alone experience — do one or all three. Join in now! 

FINDING AN OBSERVATION FOCUS: WHAT DO YOU SEE?

What are the students doing? How are they doing it? What is the teacher doing? What isn’t she doing? Ultimately, we want to uncover those deliberate teaching moves Ms. Brewer is making. Our learning purpose is to determine how the actions, movement, or physical space of a classroom gives us insight into student learning.

STEP 1: Watch this Uncut Classroom* Video.

This 5-minute segment is from the middle of Ms. Brewer’s lesson, “Analyzing Texts.” I’m sure you’ll notice that even though our goal is to focus on what we see, you can’t entirely divorce that from what we hear. That’s OK.

Take Notes: While watching this Uncut Classroom video, post your observations in the comments section or download the Observational Worksheet What Do You See. Don’t forget to include the time code in your comments.

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An Observation Challenge: What Do You Hear (Part One)

The Importance of Learning to Observe

I distinctly remember when I needed to understand the game of football. Sure, I’d spent years as a fan, cheering the touchdowns and feeling disappointment with dropped passes. But frankly, all I could see was the surface — all the strategy, all the athleticism, all the orchestration of plays simply went over my head.

So I started to ask questions about rules, about positions, and I asked people (patient people) to start pointing things out to me as we watched. And I got better.

If you’re wondering what football has to do with teaching, let me offer this: we’ll never understand the complexity of the work we do if we don’t learn to see beyond the surface. We won’t grow as teachers, or as a profession, if we can’t observe carefully. Observing other teachers in action is what we do at Teaching Channel. Videos allow us to watch teachers in a diversity of settings execute a diversity of philosophies. We watch them in hopes of getting better.

Yet, I know from having all kinds of observers join my classroom, that learning to observe is a tough endeavor. We bring natural bias to it, we can focus on too much or not enough, and we can get distracted by tasks instead of focusing on learning purpose. Therefore, we have to learn to see what’s underneath, what isn’t so obvious. In short, it’s a literacy all its own. It’s a skill to acquire and it’s a skill that empowers teachers to call their own plays. So let’s get better together!

How This Challenge Works

In this blog series, we’ll look at one lesson in three different ways: what you hear, what you see, and what’s invisible. Using an Uncut Classroom* (raw video footage) from Ms. Brewer’s class, we’ll watch 5-minute segments without the benefit of any guiding narrative or graphic scaffolding. While watching, post your observations in the comments section or download the Observation Worksheet in Step 1 below. Don’t forget to include the time code in your comments. Then, after the Uncut, I’ll share a Think Aloud with what I observe. This exercise is even more effective if you do it with a friend or colleague. (Note: I chose 5-minute segments because many of us have about that much time in our instructional rounds.)

We hope these exercises help you hone your skills, engage in deeper discussions with your professional circles, and translate and adapt what you’re learning on Teaching Channel to your own teaching practice.

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