Sunday, October 2, 2016

Cafe Conversations

Excellence in Education: Cafe Conversations (Embrace, Inspire, Innovate)
After observing Mr. Warren and Ms. Morgan-Thomas’ Collab English students conduct a great  Fishbowl-variation of a Socratic Seminar, I was reminded of a technique I learned called Café Conversation. Café Conversation is discussion strategy that is easily customizable and allows for scaffolding and differentiation.

Planning: The technique works best with open-ended topics, ideas and concepts. When first used, t is helpful for teachers to create a list of guiding questions, but slowly students should be given more freedom at creating the questions and leading the discussion.

The premise behind Café Conversations is that students learn best when they are challenged to develop their own awareness by exploring an idea from different perspectives. For the topic of discussion, select 4-10 different perspectives, representing different attitudes, genders, socio-economic status, ethnicities, etc.  

Student Prep: Assign students a particular “person” to represent. Either provide students with information about that person or have the student research their person. Then students should determine how that person would feel about the proposed issue/event. At either of these two stages, it might be helpful to allow students who have been assigned to the same “person” to work together. It also may be helpful to provide students with a graphic organizer to complete and to have students think of questions they may ask others and such.

The Conversation: You can divide the class into various groups at this time (with each group having 1 of each “person” or you can allow 1 group to perform and use the fishbowl technique. Students introduce themselves and either a student or the teacher poses a question. “Did you hear about (topic)?”

At this point, each student should answer, reflect, debate, ask questions, etc. The conversation should be free-flowing.

Reflection: As always, the learning shouldn’t stop when the activity is over. Students can remain in groups to debrief, placed in new groups, or return to other groups. Alternatively, students can reflect in journal. Some prompts: How did you feel about your participation? Did your view of the issue change throughout the activity? Were you well-prepared? What caught you by surprise?

Possible topics: Pretty much any topic in a social studies classes, current events, dilemmas in literature, taking on the roles of different characters (and how they’d respond to an issue/not necessarily from a book), scientific issues, etc.

How does it lend itself to scaffolding/differentiation: Providing students with different graphic organizers to fill-in and the entire process lends itself to scaffolding. Additionally, how you group the students and assign students to various roles also enables differentiation.

Shout Outs:
Tip of the cap to Ms. Meade and Ms. Stott and their leadership students for a phenomenal Homecoming Dance. About half of our students attended and the decorations were phenomenal!
Additional thanks to those who chaperoned! We couldn’t do it without you!
Need to Knows:

Tech Thursday in the Green Room with Bert: This week Accessibility Tools

Portfolio Assistance If you have a student who needs assistance setting up his/her portfolio, click here

Technology / Website Permission Request Form Please use this form to request use of a website that requires student log-in if the site is not already on the approved list.

Calendar Items
A-B-A-B-B Week : We haven’t had a B-day Friday in a long time, so 2nd period B-day teachers you may want to remind students when to eat on Long Lunch Friday.
Vision and Hearing Screening Tomorrow

Parent-Teacher Conferences: Thursday, October 6 and Thursday, October 20

Employee Flu Clinic October 11, 12-4:30

Fall Music Concert October 13

Underclassmen Picture Retakes: October 17

Fall Senior Meeting October 19 during Mustang Morning

October 3: Shannon Hutchison-Krupat, Michelle Kessler , Peggy Smith (cafeteria)
October 5: Tucker Tapscott
October 8: Nanette DeFrank, Kellsey Leopold

Worth Your Time
Talking Across Divides: 10 Ways to Encourage Civil Classroom Conversation On Difficult Issues (Embracing, Innovating...Some great ideas and opportunities for our students, especially those in Social Studies and English classes)  

7 Ways to Refine Your Classroom Management (A podcast on intentional use of teacher time to engage students; it’s 10 minutes of quality ideas...Embracing and Inspiring)

We’re talking Meeting the Needs of All Students at 8pm on #vachat.

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