Documentation Examples > Examples of documentation to aid teachers' own reflections

How Does Your Garden Grow? Questions our students have us asking

School: Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School

Documentation by Jennifer Hogue and Joan Soble

  • What seeds did we plant?
  • How did we care for them?
  • What actually grew?
  • And what will keep growing? (or, why did this unit work so well - and how well did it work?)
  • Jennifer's Introductory Comments

    This World Literature I class is a ninth grade "College Preparatory" level class, as opposed to an "Honors" level class. In general, the students are bright and interesting, but don't see themselves as being particularly smart or successful in school. For many of them, the lack of motivation to do work outside of class is a major impediment.

    The material presented here is taken from the final five weeks of a semester long course. The inquiry questions, though, come mainly from the final two weeks of class when some things, notably the literary analysis of Lord of the Flies, turned out particularly well. In an attempt to unravel the components of this success, I have begun to sift through student comments and reflections as well as my own gut feelings and the observations of my partner, Joan, for clues.

    Joan's Introductory Comments:

    There's real evidence of flowering in the work of Jen's grade nine English Language Arts students. We are wondering how - and the degree to which - we made that flowering happen, especially because in the future, we'd love to grow other gardens filled with even more robust, variegated, and beautiful flowers. Thus, we* are trying to figure out what conditions and moves on Jen's part made it work, and how they were effectively balanced for these ninth-graders. In an important way, Jen and I are at "sixes and sevens": our* students' reflections and work, done in association with a unit focused around seven understanding goals, has given rise to six inquiry questions for us.

    *My comments will often use the words "we" and "our." Please understand that the students represented here are most definitely Jen's. But since Jen and I plan, document, assess, and reflect, I consider them to be my students also from the MLV perspective, hence the words "we" and "our."

    Read About This Project

    1. 1. How important was sharing documentation of student collaboration?
    2. 2. How important was students' experience of membership in a classroom community?
    3. 3. How important was students' experience of the literature-life connection?
    4. 4. How important was the design and use of instructional materials?
    5. 5. How important was student's experience of group learning activities? Which ones? How so?
    6. 6. How important were the understanding goals?
    7. 7. How important was the sequence of units?
    8. 8. What does our garden grow?

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