Thursday, November 09, 2006

Who Says Experiments are for the Science Classroom?

So, I was feeling rascally today.

Things in second period were a little off during our journaling at the beginning of the period.

How to deal with this? How to focus the students without setting out for a day of stress and frustration. I truly woke up this morning and told myself I would not be coming back to my apartment frustrated. The question became, then, how would I accomplish this?

Then answer: Don't teach.

As my lesson was completely set up on the ActivBoard (including discussion questions), I handed over my stylus to a student and said, "Take the class."

He took over the class and I sat at a desk and participated as a student.

I raised my hand, I asked questions, I offered answers during discussion. Even better, rather than leading the students through difficult vocabulary in the passage we were reading, I raised my hand and asked, "What is an 'alibi'?"

My students worked these questions out, discussing and arguing and moving on. At no point did anyone say, "Mr. Chase, you know what that means." Caught up in the moment, they took my questions as genuine and answered them as such

I thuroughly enjoyed myself. As the experience went so well in my first class, I decided to give it a go in my next as well.

I'll tell you something, it was eye-opening. The lesson was two-fold. The students in the seats were involved in learning what I had planned. The students who were teaching were involved in learning how to communicate a message to a resistant audience.

Things went very well, from my point of view.

The most memorable moment, for me, was when my 6th period teacher looked at me and said, "Ok, Mr. Chase, I get the lesson." He was not talking about our discussion of what it took to make a quality piece of writing. He was speaking of what it takes to hold a class together. He was talking about the gymnastic rigamaroll included in keeping a room of 8th graders interested in anything. You know what, he did get it. He did not (nor did any of my literal "student teachers") give up. Each of them toughed out the entire period with some astounding results.

The question becomes, can I go back there again? How often?

Tomorrow, we'll be completing our monthly timed writing, so I'll be leading the class. Still, a seed has been planted. Can this exercise evolve to the point where I give my students a topic or information set and a date and tell them to be prepared to present?

More later.

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