Sunday, September 8, 2013

Happy Friday

I haven't perfected the art of teaching yet.  And there are so many variables.  Even though I have a well-designed lesson plan, I very rarely have a class in which everything goes "perfectly".  But sometimes...

My first class of the day on Friday was okay.  They didn't get their project done as quickly as I would have liked, but it was easy enough to adjust my plans and give them more work time next class.  Actually it works out well.  But my next class...it was one of those picture-perfect moments that made me grateful for everything I have here.

The assignment was for the students to read an article in groups, highlighting the words they were unfamiliar with as they came across them.  Then, they had to copy those vocabulary words into the vocab. sections of their binders and add definitions.  After that, there were 3 questions the group was to answer about the article in complete sentences (but most groups didn't get that far today).  

The students came to me straight from intramurals, where the entire 7th grade class had been out playing kickball after lunch.  They were hot and tired, therefore.  When it came time to work in groups, they asked whether they could go outside, or sit on the floor at the back of the room.  I said sure.  We opened up 3 of the big windows on the far side of my room to let the breeze in, and 2 groups went out and sat in the open-air hallway back there.  One group went out the front door and sat outside.  2 groups found seats on the floor in the back of the room, and one group stayed at their desks.  This was more than enough space to get everyone away from each other.  Each group read the story aloud, taking turns at reading without me giving that instruction.  They diligently identified the words they didn't know, then went and grabbed their ipads and began looking up definitions on their own.  When the dictionary's definition was over their heads, they called me over and asked for help, rather than just writing down words they didn't understand.    

It's not that the lesson was anything awe-inspiring (in fact, I am a rather firm believer that looking up definitions to unknown words leads to almost zero retention...which is why this is not the end of our work with those words!).  But it just went so well.  The atmosphere in the classroom was relaxed and studious at the same time.  I was relaxed in a way that I often am not with 24 energetic students working in groups.  I mean...what a perfect way to end a Friday!!  

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