Practical Theory - The Origin
The Scholars in CyberEnglish
ToDaY's MeNu - Ted

Friday, June 6, 2008

Student Led Presentations

Validus Preparatory Academy

I tell people I'm a teacher because it is in my genes. My parents were teachers, my two younger sisters are teachers, four of my six cousins are teachers, and my two daughters are teachers. My 14 year old son plans on being a professional baseball player, not a teacher. I went to visit the younger of my two daughters who is ending her first year as a high school social studies teacher at Validus Preparatory Academy a NYC public high school in The Bronx. The school is gorgeous. It is two years old. The staff is dedicated, supportive of each other and led by an active and involved principal. It is a great community and environment. Her school was doing the exit portfolios for the scholars and she had asked me if I wanted to be there for her scholars. Of course, I did. I was honored and proud.

Caitlin in her classroom

Her scholars were making presentations about work they have done this past semester. The scholars could bring parents or friends and teachers and invited guests were also invited. The school had created a rubric for all visitors to use. The template of the presentations included an introductory page, a presentation on Most Rewarding project, Most Challenging project, an additional project, a character trait metaphor, goals for grade 11, and a resume. I was there for six presentations.

Preparing a presentation

In each presentation the scholars spoke eloquently about a project on two levels. The first level was about their learning targets. They discussed what they expected to learn about their learning from this project. The second level was about how they achieved their learning targets. They did this for the three projects: the Most Rewarding, the Most Challenging, and the Additional project. Lots of engaged learning going on with these scholars.

The scholars were articulate and were well prepared. I was impressed with their use of technology. They used PowerPoint for the presentation and had links to websites like Picassa, Shutterfly, and webpages that contained more scholar created documents to support their PowerPoint. The outside links were photos of projects, webpages of text documents and more. As they presented their work, they had their backs to the screen we could see and spoke to us, looking back to get a clue for the next steps. They were eloquent. The templates I saw became unique for each scholar and the stories they told were phenomenal.

Getting ready for another presentation

The most gratifying aspect of this for me as Caitlin's dad was how each of the scholars had thanked her for help, advice, and patience. She entered this school halfway through the year, taking over a class as the sixth teacher. The first month was very difficult. To see how her scholars behaved and performed was amazing after hearing her cry so many nights during her first month there. I am so proud of what she has done in her first year of teaching. It was not easy being in two schools and having such a tough environment.

I loved being at her school. I found her colleagues fantastic and so dedicated. I loved her scholars. They were polite and found it a treat that their teacher's father was there for their presentations. She is in a good school and is beginning to make her mark. I am very proud of her. She is a teacher because it is in her gene.

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