Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Little Perspective

Never one for the "What are you thankful for?" essay, my students watched the Water Buffalo video in class yesterday. I suppose I'm now one of those teachers who watches videos on the day before break, but that's my cross to bear.
The plan was to have them watch the video where a $450 water buffalo which equals an Indonesian family's yearly salary is gifted to such a family and we all learn a little bit about life and maybe, just maybe, ourselves.
To hit the lesson home, the students were going to catalog the price of everything they had on their person. This leads to, "Ohmigosh, I am carrying around the salary of an entire Indonesian family," and our very special episode of Blossom concludes.
In another instance of underestimating our kids, they got it.
First hand up, "It just made me think of how much I have and how much I take for granted. I mean, all that work they have to do just to farm..."
Well, my work was done.
The nods of agreement across the classroom told me I needn't proceed with the cataloging.
"Look up here," say I, projecting the homepage on the board.
After a 10-minute explanation, the kids are working in teams to find a loan to which they think we should contribute the $50 sitting in my Kiva account.
When we get back from break, the class will vote.
The judiciousness with which they approached the selection process was inspiring.
There's your critical thinking.

1 comment:

Patrick Higgins said...


Here's what I loved about your lesson: you took their legs out from under them. You took a typical lesson, one that most teachers would have been satisfied with stopping at the students' realization that "man it's really hard to farm and make money in the developing world," and gave it an atypical outcome. You provided cognitive dissonance, which we really need to be doing more of.

Just a quick question: in your estimation, how many of them are thinking about this as they spend the weekend with their families? How many of them have posted follow-up questions on the class moodle?

And, you ponied up $50 bucks of your own coin for them to spend!