Three times a year, our classrooms transform: round tables are replaced with rows of tablet-armed desks during the state testing weeks of January, June, and August. We call these desks one-armed bandits.
The change from tables to desks is a physically dramatic event. The classroom turns from an expansive, wide space with 6-7 round tables, to a tightly–packed, orderly box filled with metal and laminate desks. Continue reading →
Yesterday, Mr. W started his trigonometry class by singing. He sang “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain acapella, in a beautiful tenor vibrato. “It’s the song I used for my American Idol audition,” he told the class.
At their best, this particular group of 11-12th graders are curious and excited about learning. At their worst, they can be cynical and complaining, and can wear a teacher down.
As Mr. W was singing, though, the students visibly melted, and smiles broke out.
Continue reading →
Today I visited a 9th grade Economics* class. Students were working in groups helping each other figure out a word problem.
“How do you get a good grade in this class?” I asked a group.
“Oh, it’s easy maam,” said Hassan.** “You just have to pay attention to the teacher, do your homework, and when you have a question, you can’t just sit there and be quiet, you have to ask the other kids.”
“So how do you think you’re all doing?” I asked.
Hassan looked around the room, tilting his chair back, then looked at his group. “I think everyone in this class is going to get 100,” he said confidently.
I liked Hassan’s answer. Continue reading →