Some years ago I taught a life skills class to a group of eighth grade boys. The curriculum I offered wasn't working. They were disengaged -- they wouldn't read, write, or talk about what I wanted them to talk about -- and they were mounting a rebellion.
In a recent post, I shared a strategy for developing writing fluency in students. One comment asked about grades for journal writing, suggesting that if students don't receive a grade they won't be motivated to write.
Editor's Note: Today's guest blogger is Paula White, a grandma, teacher, Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE), DEN STAR, Google Certified Teacher, camper, Gifted Resource Teacher, NETS*T certified, and lover of learning.
Last week I observed a tired classroom. My English 101 class looked bored and uninterested in the discussion we were having. I observed one student intently working on a crossword puzzle. He was engaged. Another student was sneaking a peek at her mobile device every so often and then quickly looked back in my direction. She was almost engaged. Some students were simply staring at me so intently that I assumed they had painted eyes on the exterior of their eyelids.
Quick. React. What do you do hot shot? What. Do. You. Do?
I'm beginning to agree with traditionalists who argue that education should go back to the old days -- if we could be assured of landing at Midland, an elementary school in Rye, New York, between 1956 and 1966. More specifically, alighting in the classroom of teacher Albert Cullum. He had an intuitive sense of what worked in education, regularly incorporating teaching methods from project learning to social emotional learning, long before they had academic labels.
I want you to reach up and feel the bumps on your head. Let your fingers run along the hills and crevices of your dome; examine the terrain. End your exploration by palming your entire head like a basketball. Now I want you to unzip your skull. I can hear the slow clicking of each metal tooth. And inside your head you won't find a brain, but an eyeball: a large, gooey eyeball pivoting on an elastic tendon. Searching. Looking. Staring. It's your mind's eye. And it depends on you, my writing friend, as to how much that eyeball can see.