Sunday, October 10, 2010

Teaching in the Dark Ages

On Tuesday, the biggest storm Phoenix has seen in years swept through the Valley, leaving a trail of hail-pitted destruction in its path. The first wave of the storm hit around noon, and shortly after, it began hailing, which is nearly unheard of in Phoenix. (See my pic above.) At this point, I was supposed to be teaching a photojournalism class with a very rough group of 8th graders. After about 5 minutes of "class" we watched a power line short out in front of our window, and very shortly thereafter, the power went out. It quickly became clear that the best that I could hope for was that they would sit down and watch the storm out the window. Eventually, their teacher ended up taking them back to class since there was literally nothing I could do without power.

This was almost a shock to me, because I've always prided myself on being able to make anything into a learning activity. And, in this case, in a regular classroom, I could have. In regular classrooms, there are still books, textbooks, paper, pencil, etc. One of the other 8th grade teachers had his students write stories about it (what I would've done), and another had them paint pictures of the storm. However, in a computer lab, there was literally NOTHING I could do in terms of computers without power (short of taking them apart, and I couldn't even do that with Macs), and I obviously wasn't sending them out with cameras in the rain (not like I could've uploaded the pictures anyway). At best, we would have been telling stories.

In this case, the teacher actually just volunteered to take them back to class (I didn't put up too much of a fight :-)) By the time my next class came an hour later, it had cleared up even though the power was still out, so I sent them out with the cameras to document the storm. (I uploaded them all to my computer when I got home.) Out of the 200+ pictures they took, there were even a few good ones. (See below.)

It was one of the very few times in my life where I've literally been stumped as to what to do next. It was a very unnerving feeling. This has since inspired me to come up with 1) some good stories to tell in case this happens again, and 2) some verbal activities kids could do in this situation. Anyone else have any other suggestions?

No comments: