Friday, December 08, 2006

Students Teaching

We're heading in to finals week next week. Because Phoenix is an 8th and 9th grade school, our 8th graders will also be taking finals. This is a first for many of them. It was a first for me last year. Earlier this week, I was pondering how I would prepare my students for their final. What review would work best? I feel I've dowsed them in the steps of the writing process for the past 18 weeks; one more time and they might drown.

Luckily, the idea came to me in the shower, as many good ideas do.

I'm not teaching anything. It's a tough on to grasp and looks like loafing at first glance.

It's not loafing, it's learning. If William Glasser is correct and we learn 90% of what we teach, then why not turn the teaching over to my students.

And so, for three days now, my students have been creating lesson plans, using computers, and working in groups to teach the steps of the writing process.

Let there be no confusion, it was painful at first. Many of my students claimed they had no idea how to plan for an essay, though my memory recalls planning being the chief concern of at least a dozen lessons. They looked like they were listening, even answered questions.

So, the learning's on them. The teaching's on them.

My job is to buzz from group to group and say things like, "If you're working on conclusion paragraphs and the group before you is working on introduction and body paragraphs, why not ask what the topic of their essay is and feed off of them?"

Last night, in an attempt to settle some concerns that continue to come up in each class, I built this. Hopefully, it will serve as a guide to the misguided. Either way, they're taking ownership...if somewhat reluctantly.

The Superintendent is doing a whirlwind tour of schools this week and next with a reporter from the Herald-Tribune. Mine is the class at Phoenix they'll be visiting. Sixth and seventh periods (two in which there is the most controlled chaos) have been told we'll have visitors. I'm excited because I think they will be proud of themselves after the visit. They are ready to answer questions (I hope) and they are owning the project so they should be fairly articulate. Of course, that's with me. Who knows what will happen when they are approached by total strangers who want to know "What are you doing?"

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maxo said...

I remember one kid — the confident kid — taking the lead every time on these kindsa projects when I was in school. How do you avoid that, especially when kids have to be extra comfortable and confident with the material?

maxo said...

oh. and good luck with the super.