Thursday, April 30, 2009

Easy work

This week, I had a number of experiences with the word "easy" that were "good teacher" moments. First, one of my students who is notorious for turning in nothing (last quarter: 41 missing assignments), is actually putting effort into his work. He's actually quite brilliant, but only wants to do things HE wants to do and tends to get easily overwhelmed. He finally started working after a meeting with his parents in which he got the impression he was going to fail 6th grade if he didn't get his act together. (In reality, I would have had to start the paperwork process for this in September if I actually had intentions of doing this. Needless to say, that didn't happen. I told his parents this when they left the room, and they said I should let him think he was going to fail, if it was motivating him. :-)) So, either way, after 2 days straight of keeping up with (almost) all of his daily assignments, he looks at me and says, "Mrs. Shetler, it's easy to do my work." My jaw just about dropped. If it's so easy, why was this lesson so long in coming?!?!? Either way, good deal for him. :-) 

Then, on Thursday, I was determined to use the laptops, as I hadn't done so in a couple of days, so I decided to have the kids research swine flu (I know, I know, H1N1) since there seemed to be rampant misinformation. Actual quote from student: "Is it true you can die from swine flu in 48 minutes?" So I had them research a bunch of questions about symptoms, how you get it, where it started, etc. I didn't tell them how or where to research it, just to see what turned up and what they decided to read. I did, however, tell them to look at the address or source and make sure it was something they had heard of before; i.e., news station, newspaper, etc. 

First of all, the connection to "easy" is that this lesson was super easy, as is often the case with technology use. When I say easy, I mean "easy" in that all behavior problems almost entirely cease and the kids are almost entirely engaged. To me, that is an easy lesson, because behavior is what makes my day crazy. To be sure, I still spend a lot of time working on tech issues, but all that I do is essentially educational, which is what I'm there for (not to scream at kids). 

Anyway, after about 10 minutes of near silent searching (bliss!), a (Mexican) girl came up to me and said in a pouty voice, "Mrs. Shetler, it says that swine flu started in Mexico because Mexicans are dirty and don't clean themselves!" She said this with a hurt look of, "I know this isn't true, but it's on the internet. Does that make it true?" So I said, "Well, does that sound like something that is a fact or an opinion?" With eyebrows still raised in consternation, she said, "Opinion..." So I replied, "So do you think you should trust that source?" "Nope!" she said and went back to searching. Lesson learned. :-) That was my "good teacher" moment of the week. 

That's the kind of easy lesson I wish I could teach everyday.

1 comment:

Fjaere said...

That's great, Dierdre! I wish I had you as a teacher. could you be my life coach??