Today, I taught about the formation of the Hawaiian Islands to three separate classes. I spent hours crafting the PERFECT slideshow presentation. It had video, it had diagrams, it had talking cartoon characters. Birds sang when from the trees and angels trumpeted when I loaded it. I have a Chromebook ad I couldn’t connect to the internet. T_T I was doomed. Or, I thought I was. Then, I rallied and did it old school: chalkboard and discussion.
It was an amazing amount of fun! I shared a bit about myself, and why the topic was interesting to me, and to people in Hawaii. Then, I started the lesson. I did a brief lecture on the structure of the Earth, building on what they already knew. Then I expanded on their knowledge of thermal plumes and introduced Bowen’s Reaction Series. At the end, I had them break up into groups and either Act out what they learned, Draw a comic of what they learned, Write what they learned, Build what they learned, or Dance what they learned. They quickly went to work, throwing themselves into their work with a resilience and inventiveness that was truly inspiring. They struggled (it’s a difficult topic), but, in the end, they came up with some amazing ideas.
Unfortunately, they didn’t have time to present their products at the end of class. So, they asked Mam Noemie if they could present at the end of the day, at the assembly hall (see my Facebook post for the pictures and video). A lot of it is rough (they only had about an hour to prepare and there are still some hangups and misconceptions that I’d want to work through. But, the thinking is solid, and I’m impressed with what they could produce in such a short amount of time and preparation.
At the end of the day, I was able to get my computer to show my cultural presentation on Hawaii. The kids were very interested in wanting to know more about Hawaii and what what life is like there.
Overall, I continue to be amazed by the resourcefulness and teamwork these students have. Noemie said that part of the success with the workflow stems from their familiarity with each other. They’ve known each other for years and they know each others’ strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles. Now, I can’t copy that strategy in my classroom. My students come from different teams and different schools. But, I can definitely build familiarity by creating a family spirit in my classroom. In the States, we always try to shake up groups, changing them every so often so students get a chance to work with other people. I think this is a good idea, but I think there’s something to be said for familiarity.
I propose a few strategies:
- I will make a “list of experts”. In the beginning of the year, students will list their talents and interests, and I’ll post it up somewhere in my room (or online in an easily accessible place). When students need to do a group project, and they’re going to form their own group, they can look to that list of “experts” for potential members to recruit to their idea.
- I will make my classroom a family. The more comfortable they are working together, the more readily they will trust each other, and the more accepting they will be of each others’ ideas. Along with this idea, I’ll stress that each group is its