Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Teachers Need to Talk, Trying to be Positive

One of the reasons I began to blog about teaching was to "talk" to other teachers. I hope to share ideas and mutual concerns. As many of you have seen at the end of each of my postings, I comment that I "Welcome your comments". I am very appreciative of those readers who have been leaving a comment or two. I believe we teachers can help each other and at least bounce ideas around for the mutual benefit of us and our students. For the next week, I am going to try to post positive things about what is going on with my teaching. I know I have not done much of that on this blog, it has mostly be a place to complain and write about the negative aspects of my current teaching job. Blowing off steam is ok too. Some people find writing soothing, calming and even threapeutic. I really don't know if it is soothing, calming or therapeutic for me.....if anything, it gets me thinking about what is going on at my school and that is not necessarly good.

So, here goes something positive. We are currently in our China History Unit. We are playing a "Silk Road Game" in which my students can form "companies", they have to buy silk, supplies (food, weapons) and transportation using "Yuan" (money) they have to spend based on their grade average times ten. They then travel west, either by the Silk Road or by sea. They can encounter problems; illness and disease, bandits/pirates, paying a 'tax' to a local warlord, ships leaking/sinking, weather, etc. (they roll dice to determine if anything happens). They do work on maps, problem solving (do you pay to be ferried across the Huang Ho or try to ford or swim it? What is good and bad about each of the options? Is there another option? Explain why you are chosing the option they pick, etc), keeping a journal about the trip, etc. I have a group of higher achieving students who are doing pretty well with the extra stuff I offer them. For my higher achievers, they will have the option of reading an article from the ATHENA REVIEW about ancient Khotan and the Silk Road, then indicating what they learned from reading it, if it was a challenge for them, etc. Most of my high achievers will probably do this optional assignment. Most of these kids seem to be involved in a competition of sorts with each other for having a "higher A+" in History that their high achiever buddies. The parents of these higher achievers tend to appreciate that their child is getting challenged above and beyond what the "herd" is doing. As for the game, yes, this creates some chaos in the classroom, but usually it is "good" chaos. Students get excited about rolling the dice for events, for seeing their competitors in the game suffer misfortune and getting a chance to do something a little different from the usual. This is also something that is a tiny bit more "hands-on" for teaching world history that the usual stuff. Sure, it includes some of the usual stuff, but in a different format.
Thanks for reading my blog ! Your comments are Welcome!