Thursday, January 24, 2013

Last Minute Ideas = the Best Lessons

It is amazing how many teachers are procrastinators.  Myself included.

Actually, when I really think about it, I wouldn't necessarily call it procrastination, but making big changes to lesson plans in order to make learning improve at all times.

Lately, in my world "at all times" has referred to my drive on the way to school.  I live 18 minutes away from my driveway to the school parking lot.  Or 23 minutes if I have to drop off baby at daycare.  Like I said...I drive a lot.

More times this school year I have been thinking, pondering, or even talking on the phone to my husband or mother and ended up thinking up some new activity to do in class.  This usually involves me hibernating in my classroom before the kids come in trying to scurry and get the last little bits completed.  It makes for stressful beginnings, but more often than not, great results.

Today was one of those days.

As I was driving in to work and chatting with my husband, I was feeling just a little guilty.  You see, yesterday was an in-service day.  Sometimes in-service days can be motivating and full of great ideas to transfer to the classroom.  Sometimes they can be full of meetings where you struggle to find a point.  Monday was mostly good.  We did have a speaker to lectured to us for two hours about student engagement and disengagement   One of his biggest points was lecture is bad and causes students to be disengaged.  (You picking up on the irony of the two hour lecture??)

Guess which subject has the teachers who lecture the most?

If you said Social Studies, you were right.


Now guess what I had in my plans for today.

Yup.  Lecture.

Not an entire hour of lecture, at most 20 minutes.  Still...lecture. (And on a side note, I call mine "interactive lectures" with pictures, explanations, little video clips, me pacing around the room, and questions and answers throughout...I'm no Ben Stein.)  Still lecture.

Ok.  New plan.

In less than an hour of students entering my room bright-eyed and ready to learn, I move from lecture to a four day project that involves partner work, group work, class collaboration  competition, thinking subtextually (is that even a word?), higher level thinking, placing events into political, social, and economic categories, work with primary sources, secondary sources, cooperative learning, differentiated instruction, and a back-up assignment for students who are so sick they miss the majority of the project.  The "experts" of educational strategies for higher-level learning would be impressed.

Did I mention that there were also classroom visits by members of the Site Council.  Instead of walking into my classroom during a lecture or worksheet they walked in on groups of students spread out around the classroom working in pairs engaged in the lesson and hardly taking notice of our visitors.

Now that's what I call a fantastic day!

1 comment:

  1. Cool! And, yes, subtextually is a word. Cause Sam Wineburg says it is.