Coming back from a long weekend, I am always nervous as to how my 8th graders will behave. Will they be wild and crazy, needing to channel their energy into something productive? Or will they be worn out, ready for a day of independent reading?
Today, after a four day weekend for them, they were definitely feeling riled up. It’s been warm here in Ohio, and a lot of them are starting to feel some Spring Fever (I know I am). I was glad that the lesson I had planned for class would help them channel their energy into something productive.
Once we started, though, I was surprised by how much they wanted to discuss, and how engaged they were in that discussion. They were chatty yet focused, and I felt like they were really learning, but without feeling like they were. I almost felt a little sneaky. I have taught this lesson – looking at mascots and creating criteria for what makes a good mascot (as a precursor to argument) – for three years now, and my students this year seemed to have richer conversations than my kids of the past.
Usually, I need to prod and prompt, asking more questions. This group, though, took the lesson and ran with it. They loved talking about our school’s mascot (a shamrock), and what would make it better. They fed off of each other’s energy, and helped each other to see flaws in their arguments, making those arguments stronger. I laughed once at least each class period. By the end of the period, each class had come up with a strong set of criteria for what makes a good mascot.
As I went through the day, I was reminded of an article I read by Pernille Ripp this morning, and what makes an ideal class. Today, by letting my students take control, I had an ideal class.