Today I taught the way I love to teach,

something that hasn’t happened in a long time.  Turkey was too different and being part of a team there meant that I had to conform, for the most part, to the way they were used to doing things.  And this year, right up until today, I’ve taught very teacher-centered, routines-and-procedures oriented lessons.  Granted, the FOSS program gets the kids doing experiments in pairs, sharing, discussing, etc., but the lessons as they played out in my actual classroom with my actual children have made me feel like I do nothing but talk, all the time, am tightly in control, and have a bunch of extremely dependent, needy 11 and 12 year olds.  Sure, they do the experiments, but it doesn’t feel all that independent.

Until today!  I looked ahead at the upcoming “I-Check” (quiz) and realized that the students needed a little more practice with graphing and articulating relationships between variables, and also, I needed to do one more project with them before the marking period ends on Halloween.  So I designed a simple experiment for class-2 levers and another for class-3 levers, wrote up an instruction sheet for each, divided the class into groups, and gave half the groups the class-2 levers project and the other half the class-3 levers project.  The assignment included a checklist of steps to follow at the top, and I tried to wean them away from asking me what to do, directing them to look at the sheet or ask their group members instead.

And it worked!  I didn’t have to talk all the time.  I circulated, helping, suggesting, and most of all, listening and observing.  The work of learning – and a lot of the work of teaching and reviewing – was done by the children.  They got a lot done, they cooperated fairly well, and on Monday they will wrap it up and present to their classmates.  The CTT class, seeing me on a Friday afternoon, already having earned detention for their hallway behavior on the way back from lunch, totally rose to the occasion, cooperated, got tons done, had high-level discussions, and impressed the hell out of me.  I felt, for the first time in a long, long time, really at home in my classroom, with nearly everything going just the way I like it to go.

After school, a teacher who is doing an enrichment cluster on food & nutrition said that he’d brought out some salad tongs and immediately the students started debating whether they were double class-2 or double class-3 levers!  Music to my ears…  I do love this job.

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