Another crazy week down and I’m glad to say we’ve completed our first unit in Active Physics!! Not even Sandy could stop us…maybe just slow us down slightly.
Part of what I love about teaching is being able to see plans come to fruition. Even on a small scale it’s really enjoyable. For example, this yesterday morning in the shower I decided how I wanted the gallery walk presentations to look. I would split the class into 3s so that 1/3 of the class would present, and 2/3 of the class would complete feedback cards for them. 4 minutes with each presenter, 12 minutes total- times 3 for each third of the class. And that’s exactly what I did. For some reason that makes me smile- that some neurons fire in my head during my morning shower and that exact scenario (well, exact may not be the appropriate word in any 9th grade classroom) happens in real life. Part of this is being able to visualize what the steps are that will lead to this happening. Students received colored notecards telling them what order they were going to present in. There was a timer on the board letting them know how much time was left. And I yelled “rotate” at least 50 times today. But all those were crucial steps in this idea coming to fruition.
On a larger scale I had some other exciting developments this week. As we neared the end of our unit I had been asking our community organizer (in the network) to please get in contact with people who would be able to come in and give the students feedback on their presentations. Finally, I gave up on them and did it myself. I must have gotten incredibly lucky, because I struck gold on my first try. Transportation Alternatives, (transalt.org) a non profit grassroots organization was one of the google search options that seemed to have the most promise. After playing phone tag I got in touch with a representative who seemed interested in the students’ projects and was willing to come in to give them feedback on their posters.
Once I got the confirmation from him I used this as motivation for the students, selecting the top 3 presentations from each class (so 15 students) to come and meet with him during lunch. He also put me in touch with a local councilwoman, who agreed to come in and see the students’ work. WOAH. Now we’re in business. So we ended up making a whole day of it. After talking to the principal, who was very happy to buy pizza and sodas for our presentation, we arranged to have everyone present in a similar format as the other classes, although slightly less structured. The TA rep was able to give the students the most authentic feedback possible, not to mention he was AWESOME. He was so into it and stayed for two hours! He was also great with the kids, knowledgeable on the subject, and genuinely interested in what they had to say. Really, really lucky he came in.
And it was the most authentic feedback the kids could have gotten for
So on a small and larger scale it’s been great to see these ideas coming to fruition. My ideas. Be it a classroom structure that came to me during my morning shower, or the end-of-unit finale I had conceived of during the summer. It’s whats so great about teaching- they’re your ideas. I never realized when I was a student how much creativity and room for experimentation (excuse the science pun) there is in teaching. But for me that autonomy is what makes it so enjoyable. Happy weekend!