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?"

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A Peek at the Future

Last week, I taught a short lesson about the Spanish Colonial Missions and settlements at the Yuma Crossing in 1780-81. Overall, it went well. It was very interesting and disturbing work with these kids in a learning environment. It was one of my sons fourth grade class.

For the most part, the students were not that different than my own seventh graders. The lesson was divided into two basic parts, short lecture with some map work and a artifacts lab type activity. Some students were busy trying to write down every word of the notes that were written on the board, others took no notes. Most correctly filled in their maps, a few ended up with incomplete maps. During this time, several students had to be told several times to stop certain pestering behaviors and one student was even reassigned to sit on the floor next to the teachers desk and not allowed to participate any further. For the artifact lab part, some of these fourth graders excitedly began to examine each 'artifact' and work on their artifact lab sheet. Others looked over the artifacts and did very little of the lab sheet. Their overall reaction to the closing segment, a quick write, was almost exactly like my seventh graders; ahhhhh. Many of their answers were errierly identical to some of the crappy answers I see on some of my students papers: "We learned about their food". A real lack of demonstration of what they have learned, which I put down to a lack of (1) thinking about it (2) A lack of learning what they should have learned and (3) Not wanting to work.

The overall afternoon, I believe, was successful. I was someone new teaching those students something they didn't know, and as we all know, doing something different than the usual can be a nice change of pace. The Fourth Grade teacher wants me to do another lesson in about a month or so, my "gold mining, buying supplies with gold" activity using chocolate chip cookies (the chocolate chips are the 'gold' and kids have to did the gold outta the 'rock' using toothpicks. They then take their 'gold' in to be weighed and buy supplies from a list of food items, clothing and supplies that would be found in a California Gold Rush era mining camp/town. One variant is to use cookies with nuts; the nuts are 'silver' and worth less.

This afternoon was truly a peek at the future. These kids were not much different than the usual kids in my seventh grade classes. BUT, these kids attend one of the best Elem. schools in this county. What will the kids in the many other "lower performing" schools that feed into my junior high be like ? My job continues to get more challenging. I guess I'd better prepare, because I will probably have to teach another 15 years or so before I can truly consider retirement from teaching.

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