Withholding Opportunities or Planning Accordingly?

Published: 2015-05-21 04:10 |

Category: Teaching | Tags: end of year, planning

11 days left.

There’s a lot of review happening right now – we’ve finished our final chapter tests and looking ahead at a double-whammy final exam. I’m facing a large bear this year because I wasn’t here first semester, so I don’t have a good idea of what ideas need to revisited more than others. So, I’m assuming we need to touch everything at least once. Tall order, eh?

Review is tedious. Games are fun, but I already wrote about making sure information is more relevant than winning a Dum Dum. Plus, I want to always give opportunities to demonstrate thinking over memorization. If you can think through a problem, you can reason an answer.

Karl had a tweet a few weeks back showing kids finding connections in apartheid South Africa using hexagon cut outs to mind-map the intricacies.

Step 3, #DEEPdt South Africa design task: hexagonal thinking. How are aspects of the problem related. pic.twitter.com/VW4fHqWaMP

—Karl LS (@LS_Karl) May 8, 2015

It looked great and came with high recommendations from Karl, so I tried it out using America’s energy use as our framework. I made small adjustments throughout the day and it went really well in most classes.


Is the group or the individual more important in teaching? It’s a maddening question and one I’ve wrestled with multiple times already this year.

Most of my hour was spent running from group to group defending myself from, “Is this okay?”-style questions. Another group didn’t even get their pieces cut out. A third got theirs cut about three minutes before the bell rang. I think only one had a really good start at what I was hoping to see in this review activity.

I find myself asking a new, yet similar question: Do the strengths and weaknesses of the group trump the strengths and weaknesses of individuals? Which should I plan for?

“Differentiate!” you may say. “Alas,” say I.

How do you structure an in-depth activity for three or four and a straightforward, rote(?), activity for others? Fairly easily in practice, but that leads to two sets of materials, two sets of directions, and likely multiple sets of rationales about why they get to do something different.

Everything in my teacher brain says that inquiry driven activities are better for long term analysis and retention of information. Much more so than completion on a review worksheet. But, if the environment isn’t conducive to that activity, something has to give.

It’s hard to let go of the ideal in the interest of making it to the finish line.

Comments are always open. You can get in touch by sending me an email at brian@ohheybrian.com