Friday, September 20, 2013
Reflection and Inquiry
The students were instructed to keep a section of their notebooks titled QHN/QNC, abbreviations that stand for quod hodie noscebam (what I learned today) and quod noscere cupio (what I want to learn). At the end of each class period, they had to jot down either a QHN or a QNC. If there was something really interesting, intriguing, or meaningful to them that they learned that day, they would write a QHN. If something we discussed in class inspired a question, they would write a QNC.
The project required that they produce a poster from one of two options. In option A, they could present ten QHNs. Each QHN needed to be illustrated and be accompanied by a statement about why it was chosen. In option B, they could present one QNC. It needed to be a significant question and had to be accompanied by illustrations, an explanation of what inspired it, and the answer that had been discovered through independent research.
I was blown away by the presentations today for three reasons. First, the posters looked very good. I had told the students that these would be displayed in our hallway, and since the posters were representing them...what they had learned or what they wanted to know...they needed to be neat and attractive. They certainly scored well there!
Second, I was impressed with the variety. Students who presented ten QHNs offered incredibly different things. Some focused more on important grammar or vocabulary they had learned or reviewed. Others reflected on history, culture, or mythology. Those who pursued QNCs went after an amazing array of topics, from exploring what the Romans ate for breakfast and why they enjoyed the violence of gladiator shows to understanding more deeply the role of the senate during the Republic.
Finally, I was simply stunned with the genuine interest and enthusiasm these students displayed in their presentations. They did not merely read from their posters, but with great energy talked about what they had written or researched. Their body language and facial expressions were dead giveaways of their interest, no doubt kindled because they had considerable choice in what they were presenting.