Last time I was here, the pre-algebra classes I taught were completely silent. This time, Willow Creek was a very normal middle school. Chatter. Laughter. Giggles. Smiles. Cheekiness.
I subbed for the kitchen skills teacher. Two eighth grade nutrition classes and two seventh grade Into to FACS (family and child science) classes.
The eighth grade classes were great. The teacher wanted them to write about the dangers of Energy Drinks based on an article they had to read. The instructions were simple:
- Read the article.
- Discuss the article in pairs.
- In pairs, answer four essay questions.
- After having written smart answers, draw a poster.
- Present the poster to the class.
The first period class didn’t have to hard a time with the instructions. I never let the kids turn in their answers the first time. I made them go back and keep working until they incorporated the article into their answers and then gave a close analysis. Eventually, everyone that wanted to get the work done did. Most of them enjoyed the challenge. Some didn’t want to work hard and so I told them they would be turning in incomplete assignments.
The forth period class had a lot of problems. The pairs the kids chose could not have been worse. In every case, one partner worked super hard and gave often brilliant answers and the partner did insufficient work. I would not let them off either. Only one poster out of this class. The hard working kids just could not get their counterparts going.
When I pushed the kids to think and work through the article, some great results came and in some cases, brilliant work. Collaboration is supposed to be the best way to learn. The only problem is getting kids to work together, even when it is with their best friends.