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Ready Your Monocle: What do you notice?

May 27, 2015 / by Paul Teske

I have a fascination with lenses. I find telescopes, binoculars, microscopes, and magnifying glasses to be cool -- they reveal unseen worlds, sharpen focus, and provide clarity. My dad, who was a jeweler in a small town, wore a magnifying head lamp each day to quickly look inside of watches and see fissures in gems. And I remember when my mom got bifocals after years of bookkeeping. I thought, this isn't really about growing older, it's about more "wisdom." Wisdom is gained with a closer look and inspection. In this same spirit, we introduce our newest Observation Challenge. Let's see what's revealed to you!

In Scaffolding for Student Success, you get front row seats to Lindsay Young's class where students are building literary analysis skills. This challenge departs from the others in the series, since it allows you to see the comments others are making on the video once you enter a response. This feature provides viewers with a way to gauge their responses in relation to their peers -- making the analysis seem more like a conversation. So let's watch and become wiser as we get better together.

Using Observational Challenges in Practice

Here are a few ideas for using the Observation Challenge with your peers:

Professional Development Sessions: Watch and analyze the video as part of your professional learning meetings. Send out the link before, during, or after your discussions to prime, focus, and extend conversations.

Models for Video Analysis: Sharpening your analytical eye takes practice, as does constructing questions that facilitate video analysis. Use the Observation Challenges to hone your or a colleague's analytical lens.

Individualized Resource: Send the challenges to colleagues who you think would be interested in -- or perhaps grow from -- the experience. It's all about getting better together and lifting each other up.

Learning Plans: Weave Observation Challenges into Learning Plans as a way to get closer to a topic or for practice analyzing video. Craft an ongoing professional learning series with our past, present, and future Observation Challenges. Past challenges include:

We can hardly wait to hear how you feel about the new format, and please let us know if there are particular topics you'd like to see included in future Observation Challenges. We love hearing from you and how you're learning to see more clearly!

Topics: Professional Learning

Paul Teske

Written by Paul Teske

Paul stumbled into education 20 years ago when he was asked to direct a one-act play and coach the Knowledge Bowl team in his northern Minnesota home town. Since then, he has worked in all levels of education, from teaching 9th/10th grade and college English, to coordinating post-doctoral programs, to directing K-8 after school technology programs throughout south Seattle. He was the technology instructor for the Teacher Education Program at the University of Washington, and he also designed curriculum and directed research and teacher learning efforts as part of Educurious, a nonprofit specializing in project-based learning that links students with experts in the field. He now works for Teaching Channel Plus as the Vice President of Engagement, helping states, districts, and schools launch and sustain professional learning on Plus.

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