What Works and what doesn’t

We’re six weeks in to the semester. My students pretty much know what to expect each day: They pull out their personalized writer’s notebooks, get their pens ready, and write in response to some kind of thought stimulant. So, today my daily routine didn’t work.

In a hurry, I didn’t take the time to find a video or passage that gave my students any ownership. Oh, the youtube clip was precious. You probably know the one “Charlie bit my finger.” I asked my kids to watch it and then write what they thought, considering the overall message of the clip. Now, I’m thinking, “This is easy. They’ll get that it’s all about avoiding traps that can cause us pain.” Nope. Not even close.

The typical response from 62 kids  (and I gave them 5 minutes to write) went something like:

“I thought this video was funny the first time I saw it. Now I’ve seen it a billion times, and it is just annoying.”

I learned a valuable lesson:  If I want students to think, I have to give them something to think about. Topics that inspire controversy. Topics that my students might see in themselves or their lives somehow. Topics that evoke passion or anger or even remorse. Just because the video clip is funny does not make it thought-provoking. Simple.

Tomorrow I’m showing a clip on gangs and how they are making threats on youtube. This will get some kind of response. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDIzgAr3erQ

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