Model Lesson with Linda McDonald

Wednesday morning at NECC. I’m at Linda McDonald‘s model lesson session. Before the session started, Linda gave the students a lecture on how to behave on a videoconference. It was great to hear her tell them to behave as if their mom or grandma were watching.

A quality videoconference partnership includes three things:

  • higher order thinking
  • all students included and engaged
  • design based on curriculum need

Higher order thinking – focus on application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation. Open ended questions stems. If you push kids to the higher level thinking, they will master the knowledge and comprehension level. Teacher as facilitator – don’t answer for the kids.

All students engaged – students in small groups, think time for small group discussion (just mute & talk in groups!!), “learnin’ ain’t quiet”. Keeping a fast pace. Addressing multiple modalities.

Curriculum need – math marvels came from weaknesses on the standardized tests. Timely – has to fit the time that they are doing the book or content. Aligned to how the teachers teach the skills, but still pushing them to the higher level thinking skills.

After the intro, we did several little examples of projects.

I Have, Who Has game. The group is in charge of the clues. The cards have an answer at the top and a question on the bottom. The answer and questions don’t match. The first student reads what they have, and then reads the question. I.e. I have Ulysses S. Grant. Who has the turning point in the Civil War? If you google “I have who has,” you can find examples of how this works. The cards are mixed up amongst the two sites. The answers bounced back and forth between the sites so it’s really easy and really interactive. This is great for a test review.

For Math Marvels
A challenging problem is given to both sites. Both sites mute and small groups try to solve the problems. Then a hint is shared. Then the groups share their problem solving strategies.

Collaborative Writing
The ABCs of writing. Have words that start with a letter, and then write it into a sentence. Here’s an example.

  • America
  • Against taxation without representation
  • Armed
  • Anti-monarchy

Americans armed themselves against taxation without representation and afterwards set up an anti-monarchy government.

Then both classes supply B words, and together write a sentence – one site writes the first phrase, and the other site writes the second phrase. Then, does it match what you know about the topic? Did it stretch your time?

Novel Projects
Kickoff session is before we start reading. The book for this model lesson is Number the Stars. While you’re watching the video clip, make a list of words that come to mind. They activate students schema, make lists of vocab words, etc. to prep for reading the book. After the video, the two sites create a group word wall and share all the words they came up with. Since this class is 8th grade, Linda pushed them to come up with more 8th grade words vs. just sad. So they came up with disheartening, overwhelming, depression.

In the example of the after session, students then work on a story map together. A shared file is created with the two classes.

More Info
See the NECC page to see the resources that go with this presentation.

Components of Linda’s challenge videoconferences: strong lead teacher, pushing the content and instruction to a higher level. Hardly any “talking” or “presenting”. Instead everyone is interacting on the content, with each other at their site, with the teacher, and the students at the other site. Each one is really focused on the content.

0 replies on “Model Lesson with Linda McDonald”

  1. I assisted Linda with the presentation this morning–isn’t she a ball of fire?!

    I’ll bet she doesn’t even realize she is now even more famous because she has “made” the Janine Lim blog.

    Having been a new technologist this year, Linda has acted as my unofficial mentor. She helps push my thinking even further outside the box than it began!

  2. I too was in attendance at this session and here is what I saw:

    It was apparent that the students had never been in a VC before They acted up, the made faces, they goofed around, especially when the mic was muted.

    The person running the unit on the remote site was unfamiliar with the equipment.

    It was very irritating to see this “head with big hair” bounce across the screen whenever the remote presenter gave a command.

    Actually, I thought this was a very poor example of how to VC. The equipment did not work properly, the children and the teacher were unprepared, as if they had not been given any instruction prior to the event, and the presenter got flustered when the equipment failed to work, which was about the first 15 minutes of the presentaiton.

    I wonder why you failed to mention that in your blog entry?

  3. Dear anonymous,

    Thanks for your comment. It’s a fair question for sure. Here’s why I didn’t mention the things you did. I know Linda McDonald and her work, and I know the situations behind the scenes that contributed to what you mentioned. I’ve also seen lots of VCs, and I wanted to learn the formats that Linda modeled so we can do them with our classes. So the parts you mentioned were insignificant to me, which is why I didn’t mention them.

    From my perspective, it’s really difficult to teach on equipment set up by vendors in a way that doesn’t match what you have back in your classroom. There are so many different set ups with VC that it’s not an easy transition. So I’m more than willing to cut Linda and even the vendors some slack on the equipment part! It’s not easy to make VC work in a conference center and I’ve been involved in setting it up. So I’m really tolerant and understanding there.

    On the preparation of the students and teacher, I know Linda had a very hard time getting a live class to do this with. I sent it to 6 of my schools having summer school to see if we could help and couldn’t. So I think everyone did very well considering the circumstances.

    As for the person running equipment on the other side – I’m very patient with that too. We do lots of VCs with people who are just starting to run their equipment. This technology isn’t exactly easy and can be threatening to teachers. So I feel pretty strongly that we have to be patient with each other and be willing to work out the quirks. It’s not broadcast quality TV and never will be. It’s a couple of teachers connecting with each other for a lesson involving students at both sides. I saw some very powerful snippets of what can be done modeled with rigorous instruction and I plan to implement these formats with our schools.

    Thanks again for your comment and sharing your perspective.


  4. I attended the session as well and, being a facilitator of VC sessions myself, I thought the presenter did an excellent job of modeling these types of sessions for us. Maybe the other attendee was expecting perfection for a model lesson, but that is just not the reality of student collaboration through videoconferencing. In fact, that is one of the greatest aspects of this technology that I love. The dynamic of every class is different and I enjoy watching students learn from one another, not only the content, but also the presentation skills that naturally develop from their interactions with one another and the facilitator. I would never discourage a class from participating in an exchange project for fear of them acting up on camera. Sure, preparation is key to a successful VC; however, preparation to the point of staging takes away from the authentic learning experience of all participants and diminishes the ability to tap into those higher order thinking skills and the level of interaction among all sites.

    Just my two cents worth…

  5. Angela – I really like your comment about preparation to the point of staging. VC isn’t broadcast quality TV and never will be – and those serendipitous moments are where some amazing learning can happen, as you shared recently. Thanks again for your comments.

  6. Dear anonymous,

    It’s always interesting to hear what someone else got out of the session. You see things from such a different viewpoint.

    It was my intention to stage examples of high-level thinking. I’m sorry you didn’t see what I saw. It’s the part of video conferencing that makes me continue to do what I do….

    Even though there were plenty of issues – we were able to engage kids in thinking on the LAST DAY of summer school. I was truly amazed at the level of engagement of kids who HAD to attend summer school because they have opted to disengage during the regular school year.

    I hope that you get to experience that engagement with your students and projects!

  7. I was also in the session with Linda and admired the fact that she modeled for us what to do when things don’t go perfectly. When you work with IVC (or any technology, for that matter), there are so many variables that one of the most important skills is to be able to adapt and modify on the fly. Linda did a great job of doing that.

    Linda also modeled how to engage students (even summer school students!) and how to use technology with a high-quality lesson. I continue to learn from Linda’s curriculum expertise and echo Janine’s comments about the challenges of IVC in a conference setting.

    @Anonymous I would love to see what your students are doing or anything you would share about the work of IVC in your organization. I think that it is important for us to share so that we can all improve and to be supportive to each other as we work toward utilizing technology to support higher-level thinking in education. Anything that you could share to move us toward that goal would be appreciated.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.