The Sort-of-Scientific Method

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 10 2012

Gangnam Style Collaboration

Day 44: As it turns out, focusing on election returns is not the most effective way to plan a lesson. Side note: Woooo Obama! Anyhow, around midnight, I realized I needed something to do with my classes.

I decided to try a cooperative learning structure called a Four-Square for the first time this year. I’d tried it once last year, with mixed results. Kids write the answers to four questions in four different squares of a piece of paper. These are higher-order questions; think, “What’s the hardest part of teaching and why?” rather than “Where do you teach?” Kids should have different answers they can discuss at length.

Next, you play some music. The kids can walk, dance, bop, skip – whatever – around until the music stops. They then grab a partner, and discuss the answers to whichever question the teacher calls out.

To make a long story short, this lesson was an amazing success. First, it’s frickin’ hilarious to watch kids move around to Call Me Maybe and the Dougie. But second, and probably more importantly from an academic viewpoint, they actually stopped immediately when I stopped the music! The conversations were on task, and kids were actually discussing in a meaningful way.

To summarize: Gangnam Style and meaningful discussion of the scientific skills cartographers need to use, all in one 50-minute period? Yeah, that’s a win.

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Experimental Procedures of a Second-Year Teacher

Greater Boston
Middle School

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