Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Scribe Post

                      Photo Credit: Stone Scribe from Arbron @ Flickr

It is widely acknowledged that education is the best means to solve most of the world’s problems. Reading and writing (and ‘rithmetic) are the fundamentals of education which should be accessible to everyone. But it wasn’t always like that. In ancient Egyptian times, only a few select people knew how to read and write. The important task of recording history, expressing everyday and extraordinary happenings was the responsibility of the scribe. The word is derived from the Latin scribere, which means “to write.” The scribe held an honorable position in Egyptian culture. He was highly respected for the ability to do something that most people didn’t understand and could not do. Much of what is known about ancient Egypt is due to the activities of its scribes.

Each of you will have the honor to be elevated to the respected role of scribe of the class for a day. On our weblog, the scribe will present a summary of what we learned in class that day. The Scribe Post should be written with enough detail so that someone who was away sick, or missed class for any reason, can catch up on what they missed. Along with the responsibility of recording the class lesson, comes the privilege of choosing the next day’s scribe. Here are two scribe post examples, one from a Calculus class, another from a Precalculus class. Being the scribe for the day means paying close attention to what goes on in class. The comments below this post reveal how scribing influenced class behavior for these students.

In addition to a summary of the day’s lesson, the Scribe Post must contain each of the following elements:

1. A title

2. Three labels: (Here is an explanation on labels.)
   (1) The type of post: Scribe Post
   (2) The title of the lesson of study it relates to e.g. Chain Rule, Power Rule, etc.
   (3) Your nom de plume.

3. Ends with the name of the next scribe.
You can find a link to the current Scribe List on the right sidebar. On the Scribe List you can see who has already scribed (their names are crossed out) and who you can choose next. Once the entire class has been a scribe once, we will cycle through the class again.

4. Posted before the next class period.

5. Responses to any questions or comments posted to your Scribe Post.

Mr. K., a math teacher in Winnipeg, Canada described the value of scribing to his students in this way:
Over the course of the semester, the scribe posts will grow into the textbook for the course; written by students for students. Remember that as each of you write your scribe posts. Ask yourself: "Is this good enough for our textbook? Would a graphic or other example(s) help illustrate what we learned?" And remember, you have a global audience, impress them.

Many thanks to Darren Kuropatwa, the “Blogfather of Mathematics” for championing the idea of Scribe Posts.

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