This morning, I spent the better part of a block playing devil’s advocate against my APUSGOV class. The topic was whether we have a participatory, pluralist, or elite democracy, and they had to cite foundational documents as evidence (which they’ll have to do in writing on their next test). I gave them time in groups to construct their arguments, and then we talked it out. Someone would make a claim, I’d counter it and push them to respond. It was good fun.
Mrs. T was at a conference, so the Cavern was mine for World/English. I started by defining vocab words from their most recent vocab building assignments (for these assignments, students find us five words excellent words and define them, and we pick ten for the vocab list). This set:
A lot of those words came out of the books students just read. And after I defined them, I gave instructions for outlining book papers and had them get started. They’re outlining by hand (combats attempts to cheat), using a template Mrs. T made; she or I will check it before they start drafting. It breaks up what is a challenging thing- writing a full paper, that is- into manageable pieces with lots of checks for understanding.
I had anyone who hadn’t finished their book find a place to sit where they wouldn’t be distracted and read- no judgment- to get caught up. Some finished after twenty minutes or so, and some will be reading again next class. I had to monitor some of them closely to keep them on task, but I expected that because this is a challenge for the academic stamina of many students.
Still, things went really well during Block 2. I let some kids work out in the hall, and passed around my giant bag of candy, and life was good.
(Spoilers: it was too good to last, heh).
The 9th graders left for flex time, and about half my APUSGOV class came to see me for test review. I went back over campaign finance law, Fed. 10, iron triangles, whatever they wanted. And I showed this:
That’s how we roll.
Anyways, World/English resumed Block 4, and we rocked and rolled for a while. But then the kids in the hall started behaving inappropriately, and bits of candy and candy wrappers ended up all over the floor. So I had a word with them about the choices they were making, and had them pick up the room before leaving. It was definitely a “this is why we can’t have nice things” moment. Hopefully it’ll stick.