Friday, July 29, 2005

The class that wouldn't talk.

So the week has ended. I'm thrilled! It's about time.

My last post was pretty rough---I had a rough day on Tuesday. Luckily my days got progressively easier. I have to admit that I took the emotional way in dealing with my class that wouldn't talk. I sat back, realized that I looked like a wuss, and thought up a plan. Then I followed through.

On Thursday, I saw that same class again. It's the GB class I call, "The non-talkers." Alas, I realized after that class, I couldn't just expect my students to talk---even if their writing level is high, their speaking level was pretty low. So I had to start small. I copied off some really easily Time magazine kids edition, and found come interesting articles that I figured all of my G-level classes would enjoy. And they did. We talked about Aliens. And the fact that we have more than 400billion stars in our Galaxy, the Milky Way. Not just that, but there are something like 100billion OTHER galaxies besides ours, each with their OWN share of 400billion stars, plus. Crazy huh?

After I lectured, and continued lecturing, without a hint of response---I decided to take my class to the next level. With 10 minutes remaining in the class, I told them, they had an option. With a whiteboard filled with information that I had written and drew, describing radio telescopes, how they work, satallites transmitting information from one telescope to another so we could watch shows from other countries; about galaxies and of our own, including stars, and our solar system...I proceeded to tell them they either had to tell me one complete sentence of what they had learned from my lecture, OR, they would get 5 pages/sheets of homework to do over vacation. Needless to say, they ALL wanted to talk, but they didn't know what to say. I counted the minutes, while uncomfortableness set in, and the kids twitched in their seats. I said you have 5 minutes. You make a choice: You talk or you get homework. 5 pages worth! All I am asking is one sentence... what did you learn? What is a planet? What is the name of our Galaxy? How many stars do we possibly know about in our Galaxy? Just one simple sentence.

Then it came. "I learned that our galaxy is called the Milky Way." Bravo. I said, "Thank you, Betty. Well done. You may be excused. Have a nice vacation. See you next week." And I bursted with enthusiasm. The others looked at me. Their eyes told me they knew they had to say something because they didn't want vacation homework. Then the next sentence came, and another. "I learned there are 400 billion stars in our galaxy." Wham. "Telescopes gather information to find life on other planets." Wow. It was awesome.

Finally I got them to talk. "Thanks everyone. See what happens when you talk? See you next week." And with that, I started to consider myself a teacher.
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