The Sort-of-Scientific Method

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jan 19 2013

Leaders and Loving It

Day 84: Thursday’s lessons were not thrilling. My students have a midterm coming up, and, unshockingly, they needed to review. Cue the “scavenger hunt.” That’s the term I stole from a mentor last year for when you give kids a big packet, give them a “cheat sheet” to find the answers, and put answer keys up all over the room to check their answers when they’re ready.

Pro: Allows students to independently trudge through heaps of content, move at their own pace, and do all of the review with limited input from me. Con: Is not entirely thrilling.

And yet, third and fourth period, there were the not-always-darling darlings of 6C, totally killing it. And it wasn’t just that they were on task. Nearly half the class was engaged in helping the other half. KA was surrounded by three students, nearly dragging him through the scientific method. SA and GM alternated helping each other. In the next room, TC and EC – she of the freak-out days earlier – were forcing JT to stop her whining and focus as Mr. A helped them review.

Every week ends with students filling out a reflection on the week. It asks them to complete sentences such as, “A time I showed leadership this week was when …” or “A fact I learned this week was …” Unsurprisingly, no one said, “Something I enjoyed this week was the 18-page science review packet.” However, more than a few students said they were proud of their leadership in helping classmates with the science packet, and still more said they were proud of themselves for showing persistence in completing the packet and working hard for the full class.

Sometimes, a science teacher needs to light something on fire to make a student get excited. Sometimes, apparently, it can be enough to get a student excited about their persistence and their leadership. And those will last way longer than a flaming dollar bill.

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Experimental Procedures of a Second-Year Teacher

Greater Boston
Middle School

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