Big room change today! Students came in to find a circle of chairs around an empty room with two masking tape circuits on the floor. Instructions were to sit quietly and think about what the tape represents. Students were much quieter than normal when they came in and had much better overall behavior. I think the radical change in classroom environment affected how they acted as soon as they came in the door. Some students barely held in certain four letter words as they walked through the door.
Today was TPR for most of the period, which is something I haven’t done before. The activity was approached in stages, with a break to Think Pair Share before it got more complicated. For some reason the format and groups that formed made it easier to interact with each student. I think the open space made it easy to move around and students couldn’t hide behind each other.
The activity itself was a huge success, judged by the students noticing differences in the two circuits without even being prompted to think about them. It was physical and it was visual. Students saw what other groups did and identified how that was different. We then added in chanting to help students connect their movements to the academic vocabulary.
I noticed more students helping each other today than most days. The activity was a procedure and students naturally just helped guide each other when there was confusion. I only had to occasionally stop the class, give a hint or suggestion, and then allow them to get back to work. At the end students were writing about what they did and what they saw. I heard a lot of students recapping each thing that they did and helping each other remember each step. At the end a few students said they wanted to do this kind of activity every class period. I hope their enthusiasm from today can last through the next class they have with me, which is a little more notes and problem solving focused.
My second two classes had a bit more trouble getting into the activity. They had trouble staying focused and were slower to follow instructions. At one point I needed to clear up confusion and took each student slowly through the circuit, dictating each step. I was amazed how at this point, students were very responsive to instruction and followed without an resistance. I think this really highlights how having a routine and walking students through the routine leads them to success and good behavior. All of the classes had a good final product, but my second two periods seemed to get less out of watching other groups perform.