Monday, February 11, 2008

Challenging Class = Challenging Assignment


I have a particular 5th grade class that can't seem to get the "why" part of school. Many of the students are wrapped up in other issues not being school related. Today, about 10 minutes into class, they decided that they were not ready to have our open discussion about our Erosion Projects. I told them to get out a piece of paper. Their faces quickly cringed.
One student said, "What, do we have to write the rules"? I said, "Oh no, I wouldn't waste your valuable time in school doing an activity like that. We are going to do a meaningful writing assignment". The students said... "We"? I continued to explain to them that I will do the assignment along with them.
The assignment...
Answer the Question... Why am I here? I gave them no other direction. They had nothing but questions, in which I didn't answer. For the next 20 minutes we became one class with the goal to think and write about why we were here.
20 minutes later, I had composed a 5 page paper answering the question. I found that I really didn't have enough time to express everything that was on my mind. Many students were amazed that I actually did the assignment sitting right next to them at the table. They had never seen a teacher do this. I was proving a point. I wanted them to realize that we were all there for the same reasons... learning, collaborating, teaching, sharing, questioning, and reflecting.
I know that it will take a few students a little more time to realize "why" we are here. We have nothing but time.
We will be sharing our thoughts the next time they come to class. It should be interesting, and I will write about this again to update. It will interesting to see how many students write about the same topics in which I touched on. Until next blog...

4 comments:

Michaele said...

I'm just starting my morning cup of coffee, but may I say on behalf of your students and those of us who consider ourselves "non-traditional" teachers.....THANK YOU for not making them write the rules out! Your writing activity was much more pertinent and appropriate- and put their attention back in the ballpark of where it needed to be. Another opportunity faced them (even if perhaps some of them were a bit confused or reluctant) instead of the FOLLOW-THE-RULES brick wall that too many teachers fall back on (against). Good job!

Jenny said...

This is brilliant. I love imagining the number of questions they had that you wouldn't answer. If only a few really got to thinking seriously about your question it sounds like it was time well spent.

A. Woody DeLauder said...

@Michaele and @Jenny,
Thanks for the kind words. It is surprising to me that these students thought I was going to have them write the rules. I can't believe that teachers do this. What a waste of time!

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