Friday, February 29, 2008

Mrs. Moritz’s and Mrs. Smith’s Students – What are you Going to Learn Today?

This is an open letter to the ninth graders in Mrs. Moritz’s and Mrs. Smith’s classes that participated in the A Whole New Mind project.

I had a chance to sit in on fifth period’s debrief session of the video conference with Daniel Pink yesterday and I wanted to share with all of you a couple of comments I made, and then also attempt to push your thinking a little bit more. The fifth period students were pretty hard on themselves (and the rest of you), critiquing how everyone did and suggesting a variety of ways that it could have gone better. Now, I think critique is great, and I definitely think we should always look for ways to improve (more on that below), but I think some of you are being too hard on yourselves.

Overall, you guys did a great job. Due to the constraints of the situation (110 students, remote live video conference which makes a "conversation" a little more difficult – particularly with 110 students, less than two hours to discuss, wanting to give the author a chance to share his experiences, etc.), it wasn’t possible to have a typical fishbowl discussion. Perhaps that was the adults’ fault for not conveying that more clearly ahead of time, but at best this was going to be a hybrid author-lecture/question-and-answer/live-blog/some-fishbowl-discussion kind of thing – and I think you guys pulled it off really, really well. Here’s the typical feedback I heard from people around the world: "How old are these kids? Ninth graders? You’re kidding. Wow. We’ve gotta try this." Seriously, that’s what they said. So, sure, critique yourselves and we’ll all try to do better next time. But, for the moment, pat yourselves on the back and bask in the glow. You helped create something that has never been done before. Really, take 30 seconds right now and bask. OK, done? Let’s move on.

Now, don’t let the rest of this take away from the above, but I want to push your thinking a little bit. As I watched the recording and read through the live blog last night, and thought about all the discussions I’ve observed during this project, there were a few things I noticed that I wanted to follow-up on. One of the things we talk about often is the fact that the discussion doesn’t have to end when the class period is over. And I’ve certainly seen some discussion after the fact, both face-to-face and a little bit on the blogs, but I’m not sure I’ve seen the kind of extension that I think you’re all capable of.

Let me give one example. In yesterday’s discussion the topic of the Pledge of Allegiance came up. Now, I don’t want to get you sidetracked again on this topic, but as I read through the live blog I noticed that quite a few of you made arguments based on historical references that maybe aren’t completely accurate, for example "our country was built on it" or "founding fathers." This is a perfect example of something you can follow up on. Do some research and learn more about the Pledge of Allegiance. (I could link, but I want you to do the research.) For example, it was written by Francis Bellamy, a Christian Socialist in 1892, and the words "under God" weren’t added until 1954, and at least according to some sources he took out the word "equality" because too many people would object to equality being applied to women and African Americans. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change your views of the importance or necessity of the pledge, but you might want to revise and refine your thinking and your arguments.

I don’t want this post to be about the Pledge. (If you want to continue that conversation, and I hope you do, I would suggest posting on your class blogs.) But my concern is that you seem too willing to stop at "I think" or "I believe," in this case often based on inaccurate historical information, and not follow-up with some more thoughtful research and discussion. You have the tools, the access to information, and the intelligence to go further and deeper with this, so why aren’t you?

Moving on from the Pledge, a second area I’m going to ask you to think about is personal responsibility. For me, this came up in at least two topics yesterday: grades and media bias. Some of the discussion yesterday (and also during earlier fishbowl discussions of AWNM) regarding grades seemed to center around the idea that students wouldn’t do anything if it wasn’t for grades. That may or may not be true, but I’d like you to think more critically about that and what it implies. Among other things it implies that the only reason you’re at school is to get good grades and that if you don’t have the incentive (whip? carrot?) of grades then you would just be lazy teenagers and do nothing. Where’s the personal responsibility in that? Where’s the intrinsic motivation and desire to learn? Do you really think that accurately describes teenagers (or humans in general), or do you think we can aspire to be more than that? Is the point of coming to AHS to get grades, or is it something else? And if it is something else, then what role do – or should – grades play in that? I think these are all topics you should be thinking about and continuing the conversation about, not just dropping after the live blogging ends. Do some research, have some discussions (comment here or create a post on your class blogs), think about your own responsibility for your own learning – but don’t just accept the conventional wisdom and the assumption that this is just the way it is. If after much thought and discussion you do think that conventional wisdom is correct in this case, great, but at least you've really delved into it. If not, if there is a better way, let’s create it.

Media bias was another interesting topic that came up yesterday, mostly in the context of either "negative" news or in relation to the Pledge discussion and being proud of our country. This is another excellent topic that I think you guys should research further – there’s certainly plenty of information available on this topic – so go for it. For example, I heard this story a while back that basically states that research indicates that newspaper bias doesn’t really correlate with the ownership’s or the reporters’ views, but with the political views of their readers. In other words, they’re giving us what we want. (This is just one study, so by all means go find some more.) But, again, where’s the personal responsibility in all this? If you think the media is either biased or always presenting "negative" stories, what is your role in this? When I was growing up (yes, in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s), we had four TV stations – ABC, NBC, CBS and our local educational station - and they went off the air at midnight and didn't come back on until 6:00 am. We had one newspaper. And while we did have quite a few radio stations (probably 20 or so), everyone except public radio was just reading the news from the wire services. Today, you have an amazing array of sources (including access to those wire services) – you can pretty much choose where your news comes from, how many different sources – and diverse viewpoints – you want to pay attention to, and you can even participate and give feedback. So get involved! If you think certain media outlets are biased, then build your own aggregated newspaper/tv/radio station that you think gives you a more varied and balanced perspective. And give positive feedback to those that you think are doing it well, and thoughtful critique to those that you think are doing it poorly. But I think we all need to stop blaming the media, some monolithic "them," and take some action because we do have both choice and responsibility here.

I’ve rambled (ranted?) enough, but I want to make sure I’m being clear here. I’m not saying you did a bad job (see paragraphs two and three at the top). Nor am I saying that any of you are "wrong" about your positions on the topics I mentioned above. The point I am arduously (good SAT prep word - come on, double-click on arduously to see what it means if you don’t know) trying to make here is that you have the ability to take your thinking further, to continue the discussions and conversations, to push your own (and your classmates’, and your teachers’) thinking and not settle for the results that happened in a class-length-bound, physical-proximity-restricted time and space. You have access to tools and resources never before dreamed of in the history of humankind – what are you going to learn today?


  1. Not only am I totally blown away by the learning that is taking place, and the reflection...I am really thrilled with the questions that you pose to push students to higher levels of thinking

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I have to say that when I came during an off hour and saw the latter half of the event, I was extremely impressed.

    Mr. Fisch, I very much agree with what you said about continuing the discussion after the fishbowl itself is over. The fact the fishbowl ended doesn't make the discussion any less relevant, especially if it is something like the pledge of allegiance. I did get to enjoy a little bit of a "face-to-face" discussion after the fact though...

  4. I agree with Benh, it is important that we can continue to talk about things that we want later and no be contained to a specific time. The blog is very helpful for the discussion pertaining to the pledge and grades. Also the budget was an interesting topic that I would've like to have continued talking about.

  5. I'm one of the students who participated in the live blogging and I did some research on the pledge of Allegiance.
    I got my information from the following is a direct quote "The Pledge of Allegiance was first published in 1892 in The Youth's Companion magazine in Boston, Massachusetts to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America. It was first used in public schools to celebrate Columbus Day on October 12, 1892. The Pledge received official recognition by Congress as an Act approved on June 22, 1942. The phrase "under God" was added to the Pledge by a Congressional act approved on June 14, 1954" this website was backed by the US government but it is pretty basic. Here is something else interesting as well. Colorado passed a law in 2002 that required all public school students to recite the pledge unless they had a religious objection or had obtained parental permission to abstain from the oath. ( Obviously people have many different opinions about the Pledge and what to do but I think that Pledge is just a salute to your country and anyone should be free to choose to salute or not. I choose to recite the plegde especially after 9/11. My mom grew up on a military base in Italy and at every movie people would have to recite the pledge and sing the star spangled banner. If the music failed the all the soldiers would continue singing, leading the rest of the crowd. I say the pledge for them. For the soldiers.

  6. I agree with Ben and Tyler. I think that we could have continued the conversation even more, after the cession was over. For example, there were many times that people wanted to comment, but they didn't have a computer. Also, some people in the inner circle could not discuss since Daniel Pink was talking for most of it.

    Mr. Fisch-I really liked these questions tha you posed for us to comment on. I think that with the technonogy we have that we should be using it to the fullest. I think that we should research something, or have support for something before we post it, especially in a situation like this. Also, I think that if we bring up a question, that we should have back-up for this, like the opposition to Pink's book. These are just a few things that I would change for the next time.

  7. I agree with Chelsea, Steph, Tyler and Ben. In class we talk about "let's go home and talk more on the blog," but it never happens. I am guilty of it too since I usually don't think about checking the class blog in my free time, even though in class I've had comments I wanted to get out.

    Also, I liked what Mr. Fisch said about grades. I have made the comment that students wouldn't try if we didnt have grades, but nor because they are lazy, I think it goes back to Meaning and that grades are a way for students to prove that they are worth something and that their education is meaningful to them. I personally take a lot of pride in my grades and I am not sure I would want to do away with the system.

    Overall, I think Mr. Fisch brings up some excellent points and I think we all can try to improve the way we function in class and in Fischbowl. I especially like his closing question and I think everyone should think about this often.

  8. @Ben H – Thanks for stopping by on your unscheduled time and contributing to the live blog.

    @Tylerg – So, where might be a good place to continue that budget discussion?

    @stefo – Thanks for doing the research. Quick quiz for everyone – what’s “gpo” in the URL Stef gave stand for? Is there more information elsewhere you could find about the Pledge? And, again, I don’t want this post to be about the Pledge (perhaps continue it on a class blog somewhere?), but about the opportunity and responsibility to continue learning after the bell rings.

    @chelseas – Thanks for your thoughts. Yes, it was a little painful when someone brought up the question of opposition to his book, and then Pink said, “Bring it on” and we had nothing – but, that’s all part of the learning.

    @ZachH – Do you take pride in your grades, or in your learning? Is there a difference?

  9. Ok so I am pretty conflicted about the grades issue. I feel like some students would come to school and work without grades, but I know for sure some wouldn't. I think maybe our current grading system is not good enough, but I don't know how to make it better. I know we need some kind of system to set goals, I just don't know what. Any ideas?

  10. @caryn s - How do you set goals outside of school?

  11. Mr. Fisch~
    I definitely agree. I believe that as the first class to ever live blog with an author, we did a great job! I also think that the teachers did a great job setting this up…so thank you.

    You made some extremely interesting points. Our 5th block class has been told multiple times to continue the conversation on-line. Some times, our class sets up a blog, which, in a way, continues the conversation, but doesn’t really go in depth with it. I really liked how you brought up research. I understand that we have many, many smart students in these classes, but I agree with the fact that we NEED research. It not only shows the facts and what others have said, but it shows that you really want to push your learning to the fullest extent. We really do need to continue our learning (which, of course, is what we’ve talked about this entire semester), and I want to thank you for bringing up the subject.

  12. On the opposition to Pink's book, I really would like to put up a post where people against Pink's book and people for Pink's book just argue their sides. That would be interesting to follow. Challenge is good for all of us. We all need to understand that there will always be issues that we are going to argue over.

    @Mac- when you made that comment about the pledge where it didn't used to be what it is now, I was like, "Yes! There's a little Mrs. Crosby evidence right there!" When you brought that up, I was thinking the same exact thing! haha.

  13. Mr. Fisch- I completely agree wiht you. We did an excellent job (yes, I basked) but we still need to continue the convo sometimes. I never knew that 'under God' wasn't added til 1954. Thats crazy. If we hadn't've (is that right?) done this extra convo I doubt many people htere would've known that.
    I'm proud of the job we did in doing this the first time. Maybe it'll become a normal thing at AHS in the future. That would be really cool to see happen...
    That's all I have to add to what you've said

  14. I, like most who have commented before me, really appreciate that you brought up those points. I think that it is really important for us to not let the system stunt our growth in learning. I will make a valiant effort from now on to continue the conversations, but sometimes it can be really hard to find the time and energy to devote to such a large project. With all my other classes at school, sports, extra-curricular activities, and social life (such as it is) sometimes I can't find the time to do something, or I simply forget. It can be hard to balance school with all the other aspects of life. However, I think learning can extend to every part of life and changing one's mind-set about school work and learning could really help kids (people in general) excel. This might actually be an interesting topic to discuss on the blog...

    Anyways, thank you Mr. Fisch for taking the time to reflect and challenge our thinking.

  15. Well Mr. Fisch, I want to thank you like many have already said about bringing these points to our attention. Really, I had never thought about expanding my learning in these areas discussed, and I am glad that you made it relevant that we do continue and expand with facts to back up our thoughts brought up in the fishbowls. I thought that the grades issue was very interesting and I took some time to see if I could find any information to help give some ideas and other view-points on the issue.

    Here is a web-page where a person discusses their ideas for the school system and explaining why grades are not really an accurate dipiction of a student's knowledge.

    Another web-site worth visiting is:

    This comes directly form this page, "Grades do not accurately represent the intelligence or ability level of an individuaI student because they do not address a student's potential for success later in life. They focus solely on what students can memorize now. Grades generalize abilities by assigning vague letter grades to accomplishments." I do feel that there should be a way of showing how well a student is doing, but I feel that the grading system now does not do many students justice. I find that it would be hard to make this change but if I get any ideas, I will let you all know.

    Here are just some ideas and sites that give some insite into the grades issue and how our education system could grow.

  16. I liked Mr. Fisch's comment about grades. I remember that in period 5, during our first blog discussion, a lot of people were talking about how they wouldnt try as hard if their classes didnt have the title of honors. The next Monday, Ms. Smith was not too happy that we were so stuck up that we wouldnt try if we didnt have a special title. It is the same thing with grades. We dont come to school just because we have to get good grades, we come because our friends are there, and because as much as we dont want to admit it, most of the time we enjoy learning to a certain extent.

  17. The live blogging to me seemed to go very well, but yes, I agree that the bloggers could have done a little more research. However, I still think they did a fantastic job blogging and keeping the conversation going. I was impressed with the polls being posted and it was thought provoking to see the responses.

    The video conference seemed to go well, but since it was my first time with the program, I cannot say it worked perfectly.

    Overall, I thought it was a great experience that we may never get again.

  18. Mr. Fisch~ I really think that your post addressed the strengths and weaknesses of our classes (its nice to hear the strengths). I agree that for the first time our classes did a very good job, but the things you mentioned in your post could definetly improve.

    One idea about the research topic would be the night before a Fischbowl or discussion to write down the points that you want to make and find some research to back them up. That way you would be able to put more than emotion into your posts, and not have to go off the blog to find research. Sort of like what the inner circle already does.

    As for continuing the conversation outside of class, I would have to agree with Morgan W. I think it would be great if we just kept on talking about important issues after the class was over, but often with so many things other than English going on, it is hard to find the time. So I think if you have time to finish the conversation to definetly do that.

    Now moving away from ways to improve the Fischbowl and onto the heated subject of grades. I think that grades in a way are like the championship game in a sport. You work hard and practice, and it all leads up to the grade in the end. Although I think that grades can be a great way to motivate kids to do better in school, there may also be better ways. I think that whether it is grades or something else, all kids need is a goal in education to keep them going.

  19. Mr. Fisch-

    I think the biggest thing that I have a huge opinion about that I continue to ponder and talk about is the role of grades in education and how that affects how students work. I think it gives us a really bad image to say that we would not work nor care about learning and school without grades. I must admit that it would be hard to deal with math, but other than that, I think that grades should never be a catalyst to doing your best. In Smith's class, I spent the last two months loving learning not becuase of grades, but because I was so passionate and interested in what we were doing. I would have worked just as hard with no grade in sight. In fact, we had very few grades over the past few months, only fishbowls. What I am trying to say is that in classes that matter to life and society, I would continue to work hard (arts, english, history, science). In classes full of busy work, I might work a bit, but I really don't know if I would care as much, only becuase I don't see how finding the cosine of a triangle is improving the world or my life. I think that education needs to examine this and take into account that relevent meaningful material will be gulped up by students (or that is the hope) and busy-work that is meaningless will be left by the wayside, grades or no grades. Maybe if education was able to eliminate grades and replace them with face to face conversations with teachers, we would be much better off than we are right now. Who knows unless you try?

  20. I thought the chance we were given to talk with Daniel Pink was an amazing oppurtunity, and I think we made the best of it as Mr. Fisch said. When we were debriefing in Mrs. Smith's second period class, I know a lot of people said that they didn't really like not getting the oppurtunity to talk. But that was actually the part of this whole expierence that I liked best. For the past month and a half, we had been discussing the book with each other, so I loved getting to hear Dan Pink's perspective on some of the things we had been discussing for so long.
    As for Mr. Fisch's suggestion on continuing the conversation, I think it is a great idea. We have heard our teachers telling us to contunie the conversation after a fishbowl, but I never really did all that much. But now that Mr. Fisch has explained more of what he thinks we should do, I understand what our teachers meant and am willing to do it.

  21. Thanks for saying we did a nice job with the conference, because I think we did too. Yes, there were a few kinks but that should have been expected.

    Personally, I am kind of done with the whole Pledge conversation (not that I was ever really thrilled with it to begin with) so I just won't say anymore on that topic.

    In regards to grades, I totally disagree that we are at fault for not caring about learning except for grades. Half the stuff we learn in school has little or no relevance in my daily life or most other kids I know. So for me, it is excruciatingly painful to find a reason to care when I see absolutely no point in learning whatever it is other than for a test or a grade. Plus, the pressure from adults is always to get good grades and go to a good college, not "learn as much as you can to become a well rounded individual". Sorry for ranting, but I hope you can see where I'm coming from with that. Also, I do have a life outside of school where I would prefer not to spend all my free time thinking about school. I'm afraid that will sound severely teenage of me, but it's how I feel. I see where you are coming from that it would be nice of us to give more of our selves outside of class, but it should not be expected of us.

    Thanks again for setting all of this up for us and I hope you can see where I am coming from.

  22. Mr. Fisch,
    I think you are quite right in everything that you say. To your question about why we do not do the extra research to back ourselves up, may have something to do with all the other homework and activities students have to do after school. Taking that this class is most of the students favorite class, I would assume that, if we had no other classes, we would take that time to continue our learning even more than we usually do.
    About the grades. I think that for most of us, ever since we were in elementary school we were told to "do our best," which formed into our head as "get good grades so you can be successful, earn respect, go to college, start a career, and live a successful life." I think that the pressure of having so much control of our lives (which is increasing and becoming ever more important now we are all in high school), is slightly new to us, and we are starting to see the importance that we do well in school. That thought might have been linked to the thought of "success=good grades." I personally think that when students make comments like that, it is simply because many of us have had that ingrained into our heads for a very long time.

  23. I was brainstorming and I thought that maybe I could create a specific blog that we could further post info. and continue the conversations on. Let me know what you guys think of this idea.
    @Mr. Fisch- I think that a lot of the time we just are trying to be heard and trying to get the info. out right on the blog, during that time, because no one goes on the blog to see if there is something else on it. Something new. I know that through my experiences, no one has commented or even seen my comment that was after the fact, so we feel like we will be waisting our time doing so. I really think that if I create a designated blog for this purpose, then maybe the conversation will be continued and will be worth while to do.

    I also agree that this is such an amazing accomplishment and I cannot thank all of the teachers (Mrs. Moritz, Ms.Smith, and Mr. Fisch) for all that they did to make this happen. Thank you!!

  24. Mr. Fisch, I am undefinably glad you posted this. It is my personal belief that we don't research and extend the conversation because it's not required so why do it, but rather because it's not required so I should focus on the tons of things on my plate. I really miss the days where there wasn't ________ club. Where you organized your own groups not because it's school ecouraged, but because you want to. By making the clubs for the kids, schools are taking the intrinsic motivation and willpower that a club needs away. When colleges started wanting people who did clubs and extracurricular activity, I knew that was a bad sign.

    Kids don't continue the conversation unless they have time and energy for it. That means that kids who just came back from soccer practice and have a homework assignment from every class aren't even going to remember that they could continue the conversation.

    Thus, I think that we need to restructure the way people spend their sfter school time if they want to verify and research. I know that I do research all the time for personal enrichment (I'm a nerd, I'll admit). What does anyone else think?

  25. @morgant – I think having a post for people “to argue their sides” is an interesting idea. But I guess I wouldn’t frame it as “against Pink’s book” or “for Pink’s book,” so much as discussing the ideas in Pink’s book. For me, everyone should be “for” Pink’s book – it’s an expression of ideas and I think everyone should be “for” that – but that doesn’t mean that you agree with all those ideas.

    @morganw, catem, maddieh and lesliel– I completely get and agree with the time issue. I personally struggle with this as well. And, as educators at AHS, we have spent quite a lot of time discussing that very issue. One of the things I love about AHS is the variety – how you’re exposed to so many different ideas through so many different classes. But the downside of that, of taking 8-10 classes at a time, is a lack of time to delve deeply into any of those ideas. In education circles it’s referred to as “a mile wide and an inch deep.” So while I value exposure to a wide variety of classes and ideas, I fear that our current system doesn’t allow students to really focus on understanding ideas to the level that I’d like to see. I don’t have any easy answer for how to change that, but I worry that an education system that spends too much of it’s time on surface level discussions will create a society that makes decisions based on surface level thinking. I would like to find a way that students could devote their energy to deeply exploring ideas that matter.

    Specifically @maddieh – No need to apologize about ranting. If you read through my blog, you might notice that I do just a little bit of that myself! But specifically about your comment of “I prefer not to spend all my free time thinking about school,” I wouldn’t dream of asking you to think about “school”. But what if what you were learning in school was so exciting, so meaningful, so personally relevant to you that you wanted to think about it? Would thinking about the learning – the ideas – outside of the “school” day be such a bad thing?

    Specifically @lesliel – “If we had no other classes, we would take that time to continue our learning . . .” – this seems to imply that your classes are getting in the way of your learning. Is that accurate?

    Interesting observations about doing your best and translating that into get good grades so you can be successful, etc. Do you think “doing your best” is the same as “get good grades?” If you do your best and get a ‘C,’ does that mean you were unsuccessful? If you get an ‘A’ on something that was ridiculously easy for you, is that considered a success?

    @melissaz – Thanks for finding some articles on grades. My point in asking about grading wasn’t so much to argue for or against grades, but to make all of you think more deeply about why you are here (at school, not so much an existential “why am I here?” kind of question). There are a lot of folks who would argue passionately for the necessity of grades who would also agree that they are not the purpose of why you are going to school, just as there are many who would argue that grades actually undermine the purpose of going to school.

    Can any of you find research that supports the value of grades in the learning process, or other research that argues against it? For those of you who personally think grades are useful and helpful, how are they helpful? Be specific. For those of you who personally think grades are not useful and not helpful, then what would you say to the folks who argue that students wouldn’t do anything without grades? And how would students and parents evaluate how well students were doing? Again, be specific.

    @hannahl – Why do you think having a grade in math helps you? How is that grade meaningful to you? Would it help you more if you felt your math class was meaningful and relevant to you?

    @kristinah – I think you’re probably right about just trying to be heard and getting it out on the blog during that time, but where does reflection fit into this? If you’re under so much time pressure to “get things done,” when do you have a chance to think about what you’re doing? In Pink’s words, where’s the meaning?

    @josed – What happens when no one is telling you what is “required” anymore? Then what are you going to do?

    @everyone – Thanks for all the comments. One concern, though, for the most part you seem to be agreeing with me - or at least with what you thought I was arguing for (I was really just trying to pose some questions for you to think about, not trying to take a position). While you’ve argued a little bit around the edges, your comments are generally supportive. While I appreciate everyone being polite (and being polite is a good thing), it reminds me of the beginning of your discussions surrounding AWNM, where it seemed like a lot of folks were hesitant to disagree with the ideas in the book. That’s not such a good thing – you should be pushing back (you can still be polite about it – disagree, without being disagreeable). It doesn’t matter whether it’s me, or Mrs. Smith, or Mrs. Moritz, or Mr. Pink saying it – you should really, truly, deeply think about it and continue to explore the ideas long after the project – and the grading – is done.

  26. alyssas said that she didn't continue the conversation after the live blog ended before, even though her teachers said she should. She also said, "But now that Mr. Fisch has explained more of what he thinks we should do, I understand what our teachers meant and am willing to do it."

    I think this is a perfect example of how motivation to learn can come from something other grades. Sometimes, if not often, all it takes is a thoughtful articulation of why something is valuable to persuade someone to do it.

  27. Learning or grades? This is a questoin that has bobbled about in my head for a little while and I think I got it. The reason we come to school is for learning. The grades should act a a motivational piece not the end all be all of learning. Another point is I have simply been participating in class and doing the assignments ouside of class and my English grade is very good right now. To put the idea of continuing learning outside of class into context is the fact that we can only be tought so much. We learn in school but the teachers can't provide us with the universe and all of the knowledge in it. We have to learn on our own and in society that is exactly what we do. When you think about it society has been around a lot longer then education. First comes survival, then work, then infromation. Why is it that this is I don't know but maybe you guys should do some reasearch and find out.

  28. SDRegarding the inner circle first, I would 100% agree that this wasn't a full out discussion and I think that they did an amazing job, and I'm not just saying that to be nice. When fifth period mentioned that they should have had more of a conversation, I think it was just one of those things that is easier said than done. It seemed like Daniel Pink wanted to talk to the inner circle and even the question askers, but we were (or at least I was) so intimidated, that I couldn't really say what I wanted to say.

    Now, about grades. I used to love A's more than anyone can know. An A was the top prize, the biggest reward. But now, I feel completely different. I try hardest in the classes that I care about and the classes that I am learning the most from. I could spend hours on my history and English homework, but when it comes to science, it is extremely hard for me to do the work the very best I can. It's not that I don't care about science, I have just been having trouble figuring out why I need to learn certain things when, all that I am taught about the material is that I need to Ace a test on it. So, my point is that if teachers would bring meaning (WINK WINK) into EVERY class, then they wouldn't have to threaten us with grades, we would just be learning because we were interested and we cared about our education. That is how I think learning is to be taught.

    I definitely agree though, i think we were too hard on our selves, but sometimes it is just easier to point out mistakes than it is to point out the good things.

  29. Mr. Fisch,

    I have to agree with Maddieh. I understand that the purpose of school is to prepare myself to be successful in the future world and I should try to learn as much as possible. Yet, we spend 8 hrs a day at school and on top of that we have hours of homework. I would love to continue the conversation on the blog, because it amazes me what my classmates think and how much I learn from having discussions with them. But it is difficult with other activities and homework. Maybe shortening the school day or incorporating a class called "Student's Discover" would be cool. In this class, students would have an entire period to expand on whatever learning they wanted to.
    I read your response to maddieh and you bring up a good point. I am very passionate about music and theater. I could sing or act 24/7 and be perfectly content. If school were to catch my attention like that, then maybe it would be easier to continue learning outside of school. But how could we change school to do that? I will think about that. Maybe have different tracks in school in which you learn the information so that it includes your passion. Like if you were really into sports, you would learn history while incorporating sports. But this is difficult to do and places more responsibility on teachers and they work hard enough already!
    As far as grades, I know from personal experience that grades are sometimes the driving force behind all the hard work put into classes. I agree with them because they are an accurate and easy way to measure a students worth, yet sometimes students like myself become to focused on the grade they get instead of the learning. For the grades you get dictate what college you get into and good grades are stressed by all adults.

    Thank you very much for you encouragement and for all your help you gave us through this project! I am going to do some research of grades and school because it interests me. If I find anything, I will definitely send it your way.

  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

  31. Mr. Fisch, the grades are a really tough issue. I don't think we would ever actually be able to know what kind of efforts students would make without grades unless we actually set up an experiment and tried it. Many times, people say one thing, but when it comes down to it, they would really do another. It would be interesting to do an experiment like that at AHS. Obviously not for a long length of time, maybe just for 6 weeks.

    I agree with with Tylerg, I think that we should use the blog a lot more outside of class to help keep going those discussions that don't quite get finished. I also would have liked to talk more about the budget topic.

  32. This comment has been removed by the author.

  33. Mr. Fisch,
    I think you are quite right in everything that you say.

    Ok, that felt just like blowing out the cobwebs from my mind.

    @ Mr. Fisch, thank you so much for this constructive criticism, I know I really got a ton out of it.

    I'll start off on the first point you made on how we (All Eng 9H students) were too tough on ourselves and have too look at what we have done. I agree that we have done a good job on this whole project and we do deserve a little "basking time," but moving forward I think that criticism that you listened to just says that we can do more. I personally think that all four classes would benefit if we had another project like this (meeting with the author and all of the other special stuff is definitely not required) that questioned our learning and help us understand what situation we as today's 9th graders are in.

    Another thing that I really liked was your comment on basing opinions. I recently have felt like I reached a ceiling in the fischbowl conversations because I never really had any deep comments. Now that you have brought this aspect of the conversations to my attention, I really see the next step I can take in my learning, and I really thank you for that.

    So, overall, I guess you could say that we as a class can push farther, and challenge boundaries everywhere. Its now just all a matter of doing it.

    And again, thank you for the constructive criticism

  34. FYI - morganw continues this conversation on your class blog.

  35. Mr. Fisch
    I found your commments really interesting. I do agree with you about continuing the blog online, along with following with research.
    I think it would of been really neat if someone had persued the topic of Sary Stager's response to Dan Pink. I really wanted to know what he would think of that.
    I think that next time we have a conversation that needs some research to follow up, we have the computers, so why don't we use them? I challenge everyone to do that.