Saturday, March 21, 2009

What is Definition of Covering Material?

Last week at one of Prensky’s sessions in Iowa he brought up the idea of covering material. As individual teachers, we each need to determine for ourselves what “covering material” means to each of us.

What does it mean anyway?
Reading it through once
Annotating and asking questions
Doing activities
Teaching each other
Using a computer program to apply the learning
Completing a project
…And the myriad of other options are basically endless.

So as I planned this unit I am currently teaching on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time I struggled with this question in my own classroom. How can I make sure that the material in this book is covered? Do I do activities? Do I do projects? Do I have them read it aloud in class? What do I have them do?

I came up with something somewhere in the middle of all of that, but it all related to the focusing questions for the unit, which have to do with relationships. So I am focusing all of my activities, projects, in-class activities, and other things all around this one idea – relationships. However, I still struggle with how do I know if I have covered the material? I guess it comes down to the question of what I think “covered” means, but also their final project too. So in that light, I press on to make sure that they can answer those final unit questions well based on the text that we are reading and their own lives. If they can do that then my definition of “covered” for this unit is complete.

However, the more I think about it, the more that I realize that “covered” is a relative term based on the focus and purpose of the activity or the overall unit. So in that regard, it does cause self introspection and a desire to make sure that everything is related to the focus and purpose so that I do, in fact, cover the material.