This week was short for me due to the fact that the students had two days to work on their research papers in the computer lab and the World history class took a test. However, this was a good week to reflect on having a well-managed classroom after reading The First Days of School. Among many things, this week I was encouraged to think about the objectives for each lesson and to make sure that students understand the main objectives for their learning as well. Maybe that sounds obvious, but a good example of this would be the activity that I did the with World history classes on Wednesday. As a wrap-up for our Ancient Rome unit before a review day and test, I decided that the class would work in groups to create skits that portray various aspects of daily life in Rome. As the students were working, one student asked me if they were being graded on this activity. It got me thinking that sometimes students do not understand the purpose of an activity and it is my job not to convince them that it is important, but to show them how it helps them learn.
On the other hand, I feel that another class this week proved to go very well and the objectives and student achievement were much more obvious. On Wednesday, the American history class talked about Japanese internment during World War II. I used a number of instructional strategies during the class session, and I saw more clearly than ever before how a compelling or interesting curriculum is the best treatment for classroom management issues. During the class I used a number of different activities including using music, reading aloud, lecture, discussion, and photographs to keep students interested and I don’t recall ever having to ask a student to stop talking (which is a usual occurrence!)
It is my goal to continue to work on these practices in order to create a classroom where students can always expect to be engaged and ready to learn!