Encouraging Excellence

3/22/2006 10:03:00 pm

At the begining of this school year I posted about how I was hoping to develop a group of mentors to support my classes through their blogs. In February I started a new blog, The Mentorship Project, to support the the group of mentors I was working on developing. Shortly after that blog was first published I got an email from someone who was interested in being a mentor. This led me to post about it here at A Difference. Lani Ritter Hall emailed me from Ohio after that post and has joined two of my class blogs as a mentor; Calculus 45S and AP Calculus AB.

In the Telling the New Story podcast I participated in last week one of the questions we discussed was "How are blogs transformational?" Well, blogs are transformational when you have someone like Lani as a mentor encouraging excellence in your students. ;-)

It's too early to articulate what impact Lani is having on the students but there is no denying the power of the comments and posts she's been writing. And she's only been posting and commenting for the last four days! I feel that the students in two of my classes, the ones Lani is mentoring, aren't working to their potential. They are capable of so much more than they are currently demonstrating. Here are the contributions Lani has made so far; a prologue to one of the new stories:

  • »She introduced herself to the Calculus 45S class with a challenge.
  • »I had discussed with the students in the Calculus 45S class ways they could raise the level of the scribes they had been writing. The first student who tried to work graphics into his post had some trouble. Lani commented with the solution.
  • »In Winnipeg, in the fall, the migration of the geese is a big event. So many of them pass through the city on their way south that the sky turns black with geese at dusk. My wife and I take our kids every year to watch. The "goose flights" are well known throughout the city. All Winnipegers know about the geese flights. Around the time of the geese flights last year, October 14, one of the students in my AP Calculus class started a remarkable project. By November 10 she had given it up. I don't know if Lani knew about the geese flights but she used the geese to elegantly teach a lesson I've been struggling to get across. (Scroll down to the fourth comment.)
  • »Lani followed that up with another poignant comment.
  • »My AP Calculus class writes their AP exam in about 5 weeks, on May 3. I've got a very rigourous, intense, high pressure review schedule for them that began yesterday. Tonight, Lani emailed me with some plans of her own to encourage excellence in them. You'll have to watch the AP Calculus AB blog to see what she does. She hasn't posted it yet.

I can't possibly express in words how greatful I am for Lani's enthusiastic involvement in my classes. She's an outstanding teacher and my classes have been enriched by her involvement in the last few days. Right from the start I told her that it was entirely up to her as to how intensely she wanted to engage the students. Obviously, she has chosen a very high level of involvement.

I have two other mentors to whom I'm also very greatful. They are just begining to find their comfort level as mentors. One is one of Sheryl's student teachers from Virginia, Andy Kramer. The other is a former student of mine currently attending University, Gerald. Andy has left a comment for the AP Calculus class and Gerald has introduced himself to the Calculus 45S class.

If any other student teachers, retired teachers, or practicing education professionals are interested in participating in this growing project read this.

Lani has taken another step towards encouraging excellence for the AP Calclus students. ;-)

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