Thursday, February 6, 2014

"Hey, I got an idea. Let's make 'em teach!"

So, I've been focused on #stuvoice this year. We had just completed a really awesome unit using Simon Sinek's Golden Circle concept. We looked at the why, how and what of music. Why do we like music? How do I know I like it? What specific music do I like? It forced the kids to not just focus on certain songs, but characterize what attracts them to a type of music or not.

Some really good conversation came from this lesson and it was completely student driven. And then it came time to teach Eastern Asian Music.....This unit consisted of a BRUTALLY long power point, note taking and a test that the first class who took it ALL failed (my fault). I simply could not teach this way again. 

Walking in from the parking lot the other day, I "got" this idea: I'll make them teach it! 

The conversation went like this:

Me: Okay guys, we talked about the information we needed to collect. For your end product, you are going to have to teach the rest of the class about your country's music.
Class: (blank stare)
Me: Think about how I teach you. Think about how you've been taught over the years. How would you like to learn this stuff?

There was a lot of conversation, but eventually we got moving on preparing the lesson. 

After two class periods, I started to meet with the different groups about how they were going to teach the lesson. Every group:

How are you going to give us the information - Power Point
How are you going to have us practice (go deeper) with the information give us - worksheet
How are you going to evaluate us - test

Okay, here are the big questions I take away from this:

If this is what students think teaching is:

  • What if students thought that learning, not teaching, is personal and done with the teacher as a facilitator and their classmates are their partners in learning?
  • What if students thought that practice is the ability to learn more deeply and authentically; not the opportunity to do the same thing over and over?
  • What if students thought that evaluation as an opportunity to show off what I have learned rather than a high stress event? What if it was quite nearly a celebration?

This is a major mindshift. My next goal: How can I create this culture in my classroom? How can I make this the norm with my students?

As always your comments are welcome and encouraged.

Dane Barner

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