Why does Grete become alienated from Gregor? Is it just because he is a giant insect? Well, no, this can’t be because this alienation develops over time, and so it is a matter of the burden he becomes in his new form and this is something to which the students can relate because at one time or another everyone feels that they are a burden on their family.
Teaching, at least in the best sense of how this writer understands the process, consists not only of imparting information to the student, but also of imparting instruction about how to think about that information. At this moment, it is necessary to put things into perspective. It seems that every schoolchild knows about Columbus sailing in 1492, but by itself, this is of little value. Putting this into chronological perspective together with the rise of the nation state, the Protestant Reformation and the chronological links of this attitude toward capitalism and investment versus the desire to spread Christianity. Now, this is an important history lesson crystallized into a couple sentences, but that would not have been possible without the ability to think about the information and the ability to own the information. In the video, the students were using Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, a story open to a wide range of interpretation, and it was refreshing to hear that the students were not concerned with Gregor becoming a giant vermin (or at least the video was edited that way), but rather with how Gregor was changed internally and while it is right there in the story, it does take some digging and some thought to find this. Later in the video the students were holding Peter Pan, a story vastly different from The Metamorphosis, but still open to a range of interpretations through thinking about the text. Here, the teaching is not only on the contents, but also on the meanings of these texts and it is worth mentioning that she asks the students to describe the thought processes that went into reaching the conclusions that they did. These are skills that can be taught and learned and this writer maintains that learning these skills is more important than learning the factual information (McInerny, 2004).
What Ms. Wessling does in the video featuring her makes the learning relevant to the students, exactly as Dylan Wiliam described (Hawker Brownlow Education, 2012). Consider the contents of The Metamorphosis, which is an extraordinary story. There are many loose ends in the story (for example, exactly how was Gregor Samsa transformed – Kafka never tells us). Now we know that this can’t happen (at least we hope not), and so the story’s events in must be related to the student’s personal experience, that is things that have actually happened and which the student has experienced. Why does Grete become alienated from Gregor? Is it just because he is a giant insect? Well, no, this can’t be because this alienation develops over time, and so it is a matter of the burden he becomes in his new form and this is something to which the students can relate because at one time or another everyone feels that they are a burden on their family. And this is the main evidence this writer saw of Ms. Wessling’s instruction to meet these learning objectives and it certainly advances through Bloom’s taxonomy. This writer would tend to use this approach to make the reading of a text relevant to the students’ life: what is there in this text to which you can relate? What is there in this story that has meaning to you? It may or may not have meaning to someone else, but what does this text say to you, the reader of it?
Hawker Brownlow Education (Producer). (2012). Embedded formative assessment – Dylan William [online video]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3HRvFsZHoo&feature=youtu.be/. March 7, 2017.
McInerny, D. (2004). Being logical: A guide to good thinking. New York, NY: Random House.
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