Instructions

Today I get a double reflection since I can’t seem to turn my brain off and get to sleep.  I’ve been thinking more about what worked and what didn’t between my classes and I feel like it has to do with my delivery of instructions (which is exactly what Madigan said two days ago, I need to work on listening).  The first time I did my chanting activity, I gave instructions quickly, without modeling what the students should do, and ended up instructing each group what to do as I walked around the classroom.  My initial instructions had little to no effect on the students and I had to repeat everything in small groups.  Because of that experience, I started spending more time going through what the students need to do in a step by step model where I did each step on the board in front of them.  This worked well with a few classes because they listened and had a better idea of what to do and I only offered some assistance.

My big issue here is that some of my classes will not just sit and listen and then follow instructions.  I should know this by now based on past behavior and today made it very clear.  After removing myself from the experience and thinking more, I don’t think the solution is to be more strict and work to really push them to be on task more.  That doesn’t solve my engagement issue, it only solves a complacency issue.  I don’t think I should push for complacency to get to an activity that I think will be engaging, I should work to find a way to just engage them from the beginning.

I think I worked with each passing period to hone my instructions, but just ended up making them longer, which means more sit and listen time for my students.  The whole point is to avoid/minimize the sit and listen time and get them up and moving.  I wonder if less clear instructions, followed by repetition at each table once they have started and realize they are confused would be more productive.  There would be less front loading and all information would be to fill a gap that the students recognize, rather than preventative information.  If I try to make everything clear to the point that students don’t struggle, they don’t get the wonderful focus that struggling can present.  Maybe more time giving instructions to each group that are specific to their graph would end up taking less time than trying to quiet the entire class and give generic instructions to everyone.

If I had one more class to do this specific activity in, one specific change I would make is to start by getting attention and running.  I don’t think my students are quite ready to be engaged as I lead them through a long graph analysis process and then see me run (and then run themselves).  But, if I ran and asked them how my running looked like my graph, I could use their responses to build that process.  It seems obvious now to start with the fun moving activity and end with the analysis.  You don’t get attention and buy in by saying “We will have fun later, but first we gotta do this graph analysis process.”  This idea of action then analysis also follows my general modeling method of observing something, then creating a lab to study it.

I know my mind is going all over the place (as it usually does when I’m trying to turn it off and go to sleep) but my basic idea here is to not try to get students to do a not fun activity in order to understand how to do a fun activity.  That just sounds ridiculous.  It would be better to shoot for fun, fail and laugh and be confused, then work on figuring it out and get back to fun activity done right.  This will be my new plan of attack and hopefully it will work better!

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