We begin today with a brief whole group sharing of the final topics my students have selected for our last Socratic Seminar. With their lists of topics in hand that were submitted to me, I call out the members of each group and ask them to share out loud what their final topic is. This process serves two purposes:
Today I have decided to follow through on an idea I spoke to in this lesson, which is to challenge my students to create vocabulary games with the last 70 words we have learned, to serve as a form of review for their upcoming final big vocabulary test.
For this activity, I will allow my students to choose their partners, maxing out at three students per group. It's the end of the year, and because I can count on one hand the times I have allowed my students to select their partners, this will feel like a reward to them.
I make all of the supplies I possess available to my students for their games: construction paper, butcher paper, yarn, markers, colored pencils, crayons, glue sticks, etc. I expect that they will need very little inspiration from me, as they have shown me before how willing and how creative they can be when I turn the inspiration over to them.
My plan is to allow them only 30 minutes to create their games--in some classes, this should work, but in others, I may have to make adjustments, as some of my classes dive in to such projects with such creativity and enthusiasm that I am reluctant to rush them. My only concern is that as our remaining school days are in the very low single digits, I want to make sure there is class time to demonstrate the games before the big test.
Providing that my students are able to complete something meaningful in the time I planned for them to create, we will finish the period with demonstrations and possible playing of their vocabulary games as a whole group.
Regardless of whether or not we have time for game demonstrations, the process of creating the games themselves will be a good form of review for my students. If time does not allow for sufficient demonstration, then I will find room for this in a preceding lesson, before the final big vocabulary test.
NOTE: Because I will not be posting the lesson during which my students will take the last big vocabulary test, I have added it as a resource here.
In a previous reflection, I spoke of the sometimes delicate balance of moving through a lesson in a timely manner v. allowing your students the time to explore and create to their potential.
I found myself back in that place again today. My first two classes were able to create games in the time frame I allowed them, and we then had a blast with their demonstrations, which included plenty of audience participation. In fact, my neighbor teacher, who is off during one of those two periods, came over and played along with us.
My two afternoon classes, however, approached the assignment with the same eagerness, but were far more meticulous in their design and construction. As I circulated the room and witnessed their works-in-progress, I realized simply that "You can't rush art" (Toy Story II). Thus, game demonstrations for these two classes will have to spill into one of our very few remaining future lessons.
Does this throw off the balance, progression, planning, etc. of keeping my classes on the same track, at the same place, at the same pace? Yes to all of the above. However, if I manage to remember that this is a result of my students truly responding to one of my lessons, then I simply take a deep breath and make the adjustment.
After all, isn't this the best reason to return to the drawing board?