This week Sébastien and I decided to kind of comingle our lessons. He was teaching an overview of WWII for Social St. and I taught how to ask effective questions for English Language Arts. To allow the students to practice asking effective questions I gave them an excerpt from The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank. I thought it was a fun and engaging technique for our students to have our lessons play off each other.
Our day started right away with Sébastien’s 45 minute WWII lesson. It went well but the students had stayed seated in their desks the whole period and were losing focus so Denny and I agreed that it would be best to give the kids a “Brain Break” by getting them out of their desks and do a dance to a video on the projector (this is a common brain break they get and they love it!). I agreed to this thinking it would only take about 5 minutes max, but once the kids had started the video, done it (not even all of it), found their seats again, and had settled down we were already 10 minutes into my 45 minute lesson! Now, in hindsight, I should have come up with a lesson plan that was a bit more flexible. But, when I was making it, I knew I had 45 minutes and 45 minutes only to teach this, so I had planned it out minute by minute. And sure enough, the bell rang before I had finished my lesson. If I had had 10 more minutes I know I would have gotten through all of it and would have been able to make my closing point.
Aside from the time problem, the lesson went fairly well. The students had a lot more background knowledge than I thought they would so certain areas of the lesson I had planned to spend some time on were gone over quickly. But, with that said, there were areas I thought they would grasp fairly easily but they ended up needing extra clarification. What would I change about the first portion of my lesson? I had introduced a hackey-sack to get the kids involved physically… I had brought it up to the kids and they were excited, but then I failed to fully explain how I wanted them to use it in the classroom for this lesson (I thought I could omit this because I was already running short on time) but I realize now that if you’re going to introduce something, than you have to make sure the kids understand it’s purpose and functionality. Oops.
After we talked about the characteristics of a Thick Question, a Thin Question, and Unknown Words and Phrases, I put them into groups to do a Jigsaw. Denny had suggested I come up with an efficient way of splitting them up because, if I didn’t think about it ahead of time, I could waste a lot of my teaching time on getting them into groups. THIS WAS SO HELPFUL! There are 5 rows in the class and I needed 6 groups, so I randomly selected one person from each row and made that a group then let the rest of the people in the rows be a group. The group time went beautifully. Everyone was working together, everyone was talking, and everyone was asking questions! It was exactly what I had hoped would happen.
After their group time, I got them to go back to their own desks so that we could have a class discussion on what questions they came up with and see if we could answer their questions appropriately. The kids did really well with the questions they came up with and with finding the answers for their own questions as well! Unfortunately, this is where the lesson started to fall apart because of time. We had about 4 examples for Thin Questions (with their answers), 2 Thick Questions (with their answers), and 1 Unknown Word (and it’s definition) on the board when the bell for recess rang.
MY BIGGEST MISTAKE THAT DAY: Rather than keeping the kids for another 30 or 60 seconds to sum up the lesson and finish it with my closure when the bell rang, I sighed, threw my hands up, and said, “Darn. Okay, feel free to go to recess guys. Sorry we ran out of time”, and they bolted. Definitely a learning experience.