The opening question - their bellwork, what got the ball rolling - was a simple query, "Is diversity a good thing?"
Underneath, on the board, read the parenthetical note, "If you do not know the definition of 'diversity,' look in your dictionary."
Let me say this before moving on - they actually looked in the dictionary. Even better, at tables where both students were stymied as to the denotative meaning of the word, I watched as one table partner waited patiently (not getting off task) for the other person to finish with their Webster's work so they could have a full understanding. It really is an amazing thing to see such dedication to getting it right.
As is oft my role, when they had written their initial thoughts, I played devil's advocate depending on the majority's opinion. It really was some fantastic discussion.
At the end of 7th period, Jamie announced to the class, "This class made me think some things that I didn't think before." Any educator knows it's not often that you get a child to realize, let alone pronounce, a paradigm shift.
One of the places a few of the discussions wound around to was shoes. I polled the class on an acceptable maximum amount for an 8th grader to spend on a pair of shoes. We had been talking footwear as an example of following the crowd rather than one's one drum. Jordan's were the favorite though none of my students was alive to see MJ play live. The mean acceptable price was around $110.
We talked about why brand names were "important" and whether or not acquiring one's clothing from Wal-Mart was a mark of shame. The whole thing set me to thinking about where to take the discussion next. Not with every class, just the ones who showed interest. After a little reflection, here's what I've got:
- Each student picks a country (most likely a Third World counry).
- They use the CIA World Factbook to find: children per capita, average annual income per capita, possibly mortality rate per capita
- Each student then finds the retail price for each item it took to prepare him/her for school that day. (This would include hygeine products, et al.)
- The student finds the total cost of being him/her and multiplies it x7 to get the cost per week.
- The student then compares the findings.
Anxious for thoughts and suggestions. Anyone have a class they'd like to have compare themselves to mine?