Sunday, June 25, 2006

For EDSE 500 this week we were supposed to try new a new teaching strategy. Given my wariness about doing arts and crafts in my room, I decided against doing the "folding activities" and tried to get the students to work in groups. Maybe not the best of ideas. The class size had dwindled from 22 to 16 that day - most were playing hookie, one girl had to stay home because her 5 month-old son was sick - so we had four groups of four who were supposed to read "the Sniper" and then answer a number of questions related to the short story. Usually the kids don't like to read aloud in front of the entire class, so I figured that they might be more open to reading in small groups. I even found a story I thought they might find interesting, one that included some gore and some gunplay... and it went over like a lead zeppelin. The students would work when I was standing right over their group, but as soon as I moved to another part of the room the discussion would quickly change. The sound of their unsure reading voices would suddenly turn into a faster, slang-laced dialect that had no interest in communicating ideas about plot, theme, or conflict. Although I passed out an assignment to be completed as a group that was going to be graded, the students seemed to care less about their grades than they were about the latest gossip flying around the halls of Holly Springs High.

As my professor for EDSE 500, Ms. Monroe, and I discussed, perhaps I was not clear enough in explaining the rules for group work. Knowing my inability to give clear enough directions has been a constant problem for me, I tried to pace my words and give simple, forceful instructions about reading to one another, completing the worksheet, and staying on task. I suppose my efforts were not good enough. As I discussed with my friend Landon last night, my difficulties are probably the result of being unable to relate to students who cannot make the same common sense connections as those people with whom I usually interact. Meaning that, because of a lack of experiences and/or worldly knowledge, or perhaps as a result of the fact that their brains have not been sufficiently challenged over the past few years (perhaps their entire lifetimes), they cannot draw the same connections which are second nature to my friends from high school, college, Ole Miss, and even the high school students I taught in Providence. Though the "lesson" I took from this group-teaching experience was that I need to plan better and provide clearer directions when attempting group activities, I doubt that I will use extensive groupwork during the teaching year. In the future I will be much more likely to use pairs if I want the students to work together.


Blogger A. Monroe said...

Pairs are great, too. Dyads have been shown to be the most effective structure for cooperative learning.

8:09 PM  
Blogger dd adams said...

i think if you pack some heat in your pants-front they might start listening ...

lean with it.

11:40 PM  

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