The Sort-of-Scientific Method

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 24 2013

I Don’t Talk, Students Do Work

Day 138: I hope visitors learn something when they come to my classroom. Selfishly, though, I kind of like having visitors because it helps me reflect on what’s going on.

Case in point: 6D enters the room 2nd period. After the Do Now, I debrief very quickly, and then put kids into groups. Each group reads about one of the six kingdoms of living things. Once they finish, they complete a graphic organizer about what makes that kingdom unique. Finally, students create a poster with the information they just found in the text.

As I explained the lesson to my visitor, a soon-to-be Memphis corps member, I remembered just how much planning can be a management strategy. I had talked for three minutes, and then kids got to work for 35 minutes. I’m convinced no one is built to sit and calmly listen to someone talk at them forever, and sixth graders just happen to be particularly poorly suited to that task. So, whenever possible, I just put them to work. Even in my challenging class, everyone got their work done, and all I had to do was circulate to answer questions and put out small management fires.

And it gets better. Because the key points students needed to take away from the lesson were in the reading, students actually had to work to learn. None of that “I can zone out while I fill in guided notes” nonsense.

With everyone working effectively in groups, I spent most of that second period class chatting with my visitor in the back. And, in the back of my mind, smiling at just how much my teaching has evolved in two years.

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Experimental Procedures of a Second-Year Teacher

Greater Boston
Middle School

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