The Brink of Insanity

This year I’ve tried to make my teaching as student centric as possible.  In most of my classes, I’ve worked on limiting teacher led lessons while promoting student driven projects.  Throughout this transition I’ve had some ups and downs.  Yesterday, my efforts earned me a few gray hairs.

My 6th grade class spent almost two 45 minute periods struggling to put together simple paragraphs based on some research they’d done.   Almost all of them kept copying and pasting snippets from web research they’d completed, trying to stitch it together into a paragraph.  While I jumped from group to group and saw plagiarized work after plagiarized work, my frustration only increased.  At the end of the day, I told them to just delete everything they had – lest I become the 6:00 news lead.  As I drove home that day in frustration, I started to realize that the students weren’t really to blame for this – it was me.  In my quest to be as student centric as possible, I left the “how-to” part of  things out of the equation.  Yes, I’d given them a few guidelines for research, equipped them with Diigo (awesome, by the way), and given them a skeleton outline for their paragraphs – but I hadn’t really shown them how to put it all together.

It wasn’t a watershed moment or anything, but realizing my mistake helped me have one of the most productive days I’ve had all year.  Instead of just throwing things at the students and expecting them to figure it out (which I’d unwittingly been doing lately), I got up in front of the class and gave them the straight business.  We walked through each of the steps from research to paragraph and discussed how to take the main ideas from the research and put it into your own words.  It ended up taking about 30 minutes to explain (more time than I ever spend in front of the class), but when the students got back to work on their research and writing the results were a complete 180 from the day before.  There are still some kinks to work out, but the cool part is that my students and I are learning together.

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One thought on “The Brink of Insanity

  1. Pingback: » Narrowing the search: Sharetabs and Diigo together Realizing Your Personal Legend: Useful Sites, How-Tos, Student Samples

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