Tag Archive for student

Global Trips: Student Leadership

A number of us are working to make this year’s global trips a whole-community experience. Previously, we made a strong push for teachers to include Botswana and HIV/AIDS in their course curricula. Now, we turn our attention to community events.

Botswana trip participants planned and presented an assembly to Upper School students last week. It was such a pleasure to sit in the audience and absorb the accuracy, significance, organization, and style of their presentation while playing no direct role except capturing it on video. This was for me the first realization of our ultimate goal of conferring as much trip planning responsibility as possible to the students. There is no need for the two adults to act as tour guides. This trip is for the students, and they will benefit so much more when the trip is also set up by the students.

The assembly included:

  • “Stand-up” activity for audience members to learn some key metrics about the effect of HIV and AIDS on the Botswana population. For example, the number of people living with AIDS is increasing, since antiretroviral treatment is now widely available, but the rate of new infections has not decreased significantly.
  • Skit adapted from a chapter of Saturday Is For Funerals (“the driver”), with a short introduction about the role of stigma in the AIDS crisis. I was so impressed with how two students selected a scene, memorized, and rehearsed the skit in a week’s time!
  • Presentation about the basic structure and activities of the trip. Without a comment from the adults, they did not at all mention the recreational portions of the trip — kept the presentation focused on the business.
  • Explanation of how students can help raise funds and send school supplies to villages that need it.

At least seven of the 13 trip participants got up on stage, and they completed all of this within 15 minutes. Transitions were very crisp, and for the most part, students avoided digressing while on stage.

Next up in our month of community presentations:


Moodle Teacher Share

We recently held the second of our faculty study group meetings on technology tools to enhance student dialogue. Two of our teachers shared their uses of Moodle courses with the group. Here are some notes on their presentations. Our Moodle installation is at insideCatlin.


Glenn never used Moodle before but found 2 minute moodles videos much more useful than Moodle’s main documentation.

At night, each student writes a memorable passage from the book, talks about the writing style in the passage, and thinks of a question related to the passage. Every student is responsible for coming up with a question. The next day during class discussion, a student group leader selects one of the questions to discuss face-to-face during the next class. Hybrid learning at its best!

Use a wiki to create a murder mystery with alternate storylines depending on where the reader clicks.

In-class forums have been the biggest success in facilitating student dialogue. Teacher posts the prompt questions, and students post replies and then respond to two other students. The next day, there was more to discuss, so teacher asked the students to respond to three more students and then add a question of their own to keep the discussion going. Class time was spent well, because students were all writing at the same time.

Because no other classes are using the Moodle blog tool, Glenn was able to use blogs to act as the students’ English journal. Better than separate forum topics, because they all appear in one place and are easier to review.


Students use discussion forums to reflect on the topic of the day. The warm-up for the next day is to spend time reading everyone’s reflections and looking for common themes and surprises. Students who need a little more time to process their thoughts do well with this system, because they have time to read other students’ posts the night before and think about them before having to speak to them the next day.

Every time there is a guest speaker, movie, or field trip, the students write a forum reflection.

You can easily review all of the forum posts that a student has submitted, in preparation for student conferences and narrative reports. Raises an opportunity for student-teacher dialogue. Will print them out more regularly and show them to the students. Helps students reflect on the depth of their responses, use of grammar in informal writing.