Saturday, August 02, 2014

Experiments In History Classes

I have a number of students who just can't cope with Year 8 work but aren't listed as integration students or funded as such. Even where they are, we have a limited number of aides to help. I wish I knew why we're receiving funding for more students and there are fewer aides, but there you are.  I have to make the best of it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I do sometimes corner one or another of our aides, who are all kind people who know their jobs very well, and ask for an opinion of a piece of work I've prepared for a particular student.

In this case, the student was a very difficult young man who has a way of running around the classroom doing nothing except socialise and claim that he "helped" another student who has done a decent job of his own assignment. Occasionally he has found a picture, but that was it.

Something had to be done. I prepared a simplified version of one topic, breaking it down into instructions, but even that was too hard for him and the running around the classroom continued.

Last week, desperate, I did it again, even simpler. The topic was The Black Death. I supplied the   questions, eg "Another name for the Black Death was..." There were about six questions. I told him that I'd like him to answer the questions, looking them up on line, then use the answers to produce a poster or PowerPoint with illustrations he could also find online. I had showed them to an  aide, who said that yes, it was a good simple piece that he should be able to do.

Breakthrough! He set up his table among the shelves in the library, where we were, to prevent his friends  from distracting him - I kept shooing them away for him, telling them he was there because he wanted to be -  and got to work. I did have to help him with a couple of the questions, but he was more than willing. Well before the session was over, he'd managed to produce about three quarters of  a decent PowerPoint! I suggested a couple of illustrations to go with it. He completed it next lesson.

You see, everyone wants to succeed. He's naughty because it distracts his teachers from noticing that he just can't do the work. Given a chance to succeed, he did.

And it could never have been done in the tiny classroom that class calls homeroom. The library is big enough that he could  hide from those who would stop him from succeeding. That's something else I've learned. 

I don't know if I can do it again - this is trial and error, mostly error - but I do know that I was
blissfully happy afterwards.

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