Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Change of Tactics

Freshman English. The lesson plan consisted of them working in their workbooks. It should have been pretty simple. But, it was a class of 9th graders.

For the first class, I tried for silence. Um, right. Sure. That was about as plausible as having the Easter Bunny living next door. I kept things down to a dull roar, but many of them didn't even bother to do the assignment.

For the second group, I gave up on silence. I just focused on keeping them on task. This entailed me walking the room and asking them what they were doing. Several students didn't even bother to pretend to do any work. (The first group at least had the decency to keep the assignment in front of them on their desks.)

It was near the end of that period that I figured out I needed a new tactic. If I wasn't going to keep them silent and working, perhaps I could use that to my advantage.

The problem was that the assignment was going to be due tomorrow. They could finish it for homework. So, to them that means play in class, get busy at home.

So, with the last group, I allowed the talking, but only if the assignment was due at the end of the period. I erased the part on the board that said "finish for HW" and they all seemed fine with it. I walked the room. I reminded several groups of students (groups who had completed next to nothing on their pages) that they had a half hour/twenty minutes/fifteen minutes/etc. to finish and that I would be collecting it.

It still surprises me when they act all surprised when I then call for their work at the end of the period.

Did any of them finish? No. Of course not. (Although, I didn't have to fight them as hard as I did the earlier classes, so I call it a draw.)

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