Today I taught a lesson about the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party.
In this lesson, I had students first learn the basics of each event by reading an online article (I read one aloud by myself, then we took turns for the second one) and then completing a little quiz on the website (Schoology). Then I read aloud directions for students for their “Revolutionary Reporter” assignment (on Schoology) – they were each to be assigned one event (Massacre or Tea Party) and write a news article as if they were there in 1770s Boston. I asked them to focus on taking on the perspective of a newsreporter (using their 5 senses), summarizing (who, what when, where, why, how), and predicting how this event would influence the colonies (how would people react?). To assign the events, I went around the room with a hat full of slips of paper labelling the events. Students then watched a video (Schoology) relating to their specific event, and proceeded to write the report (Notability). During the writing process, I checked in with students to make sure they were on the right track. Once they were done, students read the work of other students who wrote about the opposite event in order to see both stories. To close, the students discussed with one another something new they learned and something that surprised them, and then wrote (on paper) an exit ticket asking if they thought acts of rebellion by the colonists were justified.
Today’s takeaway: the benefit of checking in with individual students while they complete individual work. I had really great conversations with a student who normally struggles to stay on task and sometimes has a difficult time with the content – by talking with him, I was able to steer him in the right direction, and I could tell by our conversation that he was engaged with the material. After talking with that particular student – and seeing him really care about the information we were studying, I walked away from the lesson with a good feeling – in that insistence, at least, I had taught a student something valuable.
Initiating these private/individual conversations has been a weakness of mine that I have improved on, and will continue to improve on as I move forward. I need to remember that I can have just as valuable conversations with all the other students as well, even if I think that they don’t necessarily need my help. I think that sometimes I am hesitant to talk to strong students because I don’t want to bother them; I remember in high school sometimes feeling like teachers were checking in too much when I didn’t need any help. I need to recognize the fact that not all strong students will necessarily share that feeling with me, so checking in should be done often, but intentionally – I should check in to discuss matters/issues that may apply to that individual student, not just check in for the sake of checking in.