Today I am participating in Digital Learning Sunday with Margaret Simon at Reflections on the Teche. This week Margaret has encouraged us to write about perspective.
When I began teaching middle school, I incorporated an Article of the Week or AoW into my curriculum. Each week I choose a nonfiction article, and students read, annotate, and write something about it. AoW's are one of the best practices I have implemented in my middle school classroom.
My goal is to allow students to talk about the article in small groups because in these small groups is where the real learning happens. This is where they get to state their own opinions and views and have opportunities to learn and respect what others think about the same issue. This is where they learn about perspective.
Several months ago, they read an article about Apple being forced by the FBI to look at the text messages of the person responsible for killing 14 people in California. The class was evenly divided in their support for which side was "correct."
Because the content of this article was relevant to their lives as cell phone users, they had very strong feelings on the issue. Giving them the opportunity to discuss this issue became a window for me as their teacher. As the students began talking and sharing ideas, they also began to revise and change their perspectives. I would hear them say, "Hey, I never thought about that." and "That's a good point."
I learned that the development of perspective lies in the heart of discussion. Is it possible for someone to have a true perspective if no one challenges it or questions it?
This summer I am taking part in an on-line book study with several teacher-bloggers. We are reading Katherine Bomer's The Journey is Everything, a book about essaying. In the the first chapter, the reader is asked to read closely an essay titled "Pride" by Dagoberto Gilb. (A very difficult read, I might add.) I read the essay, closed the book, and wanted to share my perspective. I wanted to state my thoughts and feelings about the essay, and I wanted to see what others thought as well. Most importantly, I wanted someone to question and challenge me.
Only then will I feel my perspective is real.