Week 23: I don’t know where this is going, but it feels like the right place

March9

23

I am sooooo busy with union stuff, but I did the full week at work, and there are some great stories to share from the classroom.

En general, my classroom is an interesting place. Most of the class is on a better groove of work and behavior, but a couple are trying to work their own program, which makes it a drag for the rest of the kids, and more work for the adults involved (their parent, myself, my student teachers, heck even the principal). It was a windy week, which can make it a bit crazy too. I started the week really needing to put on my “game face” as we (the kids, and me) are realizing, there are no more 3-day weeks (February holidays) or minimum days (for parent conferences), and we won’t have Spring Break until April.

Enough kvetching! What did we do? First to help my student teacher establish her authority, etc. and to rein in the class in general, we’ve moved to a new approach for the class point system. I know many folks do not like behavior mod systems with rewards and consequences. My position is that this is what I do, and it’s not for everyone. Also, a system like that both exists in and helps create the context of your classroom. In other words, it will interact with intrinsic motivators and your underlying relationship with the kids. If those things are crappy, a great behavior mod/reward plan won’t help you too much. The thing is that this is what the student teacher wanted and felt she needed, and I also need to support her. I like my student teacher because she has a background in mental health, so she is very good working one-on-one and in small groups with the kids around conflicts, and their behavior. I can have her work with the kids on those issues in a way that most soon-to-be teachers could not handle. It’s a big plus given some the quirky personalities in my class.

Okay, so the kids are squirrel-ly and we’re doing a new whole-class behavior system. I decided to do something crazy–cause that’s how I roll. We’re studying the Revolutionary War period, one of my favorite subjects with the kids. I really wanted them to get how the French and Indian War set up things for the Revolution. We did a chapter from the text book, but I needed their attention. We did a game re-enactment similar to “Risk” and had kids spending money on soldiers and rolling dice to decide battles. The Brits won, although I didn’t weight it that way. What I wanted them to get was the factor that money played in the war, and that the Brits pumped in cash, which helped them win, but also racked up debts, which led to tax increases and the American Revolution. I think some of them got. Certainly more than if we had just stuck with reading the textbook.

I’m also having them work on “recruiting posters” for the Patriot, or Loyalist cause. I’ve got a few done so far, but will continue to add to this over time:

And, one of the things that I really enjoy is introducing kids to the concept of rights that are “inalienable” , that you are born with and can’t be taken away. I showed the kids this film I made about the UN Rights of the Child about three or four years ago:

Here are their initial comments. Next week, they will be writing more about what rights they think children should have.

Photo Credit: 23 by Akbar Sim, on Flickr

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