Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Every Student Succeeds

It has been so interesting watching my students design and deliver lessons to their peers. The process reveals a lot about what they think education is and is not. One of the most successful presentations so far was by two girls who made a video of themselves baking cookie bars, then designed an online quiz about their ingredients and procedures, and then gave samples and the recipe.

It was fun, engaging, and informative, but when it came to the assessment, it reminded me of one of the biggest challenges we have as educators. We are trying to provide our students with skills and knowledge they will use outside of the walls we are generally confined by. In this case, short of having everyone bake some cookie bars and bring them in, can we really know how effective the lesson was?

Which brings me to the most chaotic experience of the day. Two well-intentioned students planned to teach their classmates some simple origami. They had tips and directions on the interactive whiteboard, and printed instructions for each pair. "If you get confused," they directed the class, "raise your hand and we'll come help you." It was a relatively small group of 12, but they did not anticipate the questions or the level of frustration. Nor did they appreciate the difficulty of simply explaining a complex task. The class quickly descended into chaos, and I stepped in to restore order. Even so, there were not a lot of folded pecking birds by the end of the session.

I was pushing in chairs and tidying up as the two presenters packed their books to go to their next class. "Wow," said one, "I have a lot more respect for teachers now!"

I raised my eyebrows and laughed a little.

"I know" said his partner. "Hardly anyone got it!" She frowned. "Will that hurt our grade?"

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