Friday, December 1, 2017
Seventh grade science. Friday before the week-long Thanksgiving break. Their teacher had left them a simple assignment: they were to label all the parts of an animal cell, state what each part's function was, and color in the cell.
Unfortunately, this was not enough work to keep them all busy all period.
(I suspect that many of them rushed through the assignment. They tend to.)
Because this happens frequently, I have a list of things that I tell them to do if they finish early. It includes things like reading a book, getting ahead on homework, studying for upcoming tests, etc. Stuff that older students would automatically just do. But at that age, they haven't yet figured out that extra time is time they can use to get ahead.
After getting the "What do I do if I'm finished?" question and repeating the list several times, I figured it was time to write the list on the board. Not that I wouldn't have to still answer the question, but at least then I could point.
I turned to the board. Opened the dry erase marker. Began to write "Assignment" on the board...
(As long as I was writing things down, I figured I might as well write what they were supposed to finish first.)
I got three letters in when a student called out to me. I turned...
I heard the titters behind me. 7th graders. 12-year-olds.
Um, yeah. That was going to get ugly. I turned back to the board, finished writing "Assign", and turned back to the student. I got about five more questions before I could return to the board and finish writing "Assignment". I got about halfway through the cell page explanation before I got called away again.
It took several tries before I got to "What do I do if I finish early?", and then a few more before I had a full list written. Because 7th graders.
And I was so glad I had that written for later classes as I referred to it frequently. Because even after pointing it out and reading it to them, they still asked what they should do when they finished. Because 7th graders.