Driver’s seat

So I keep reading all of these articles, blogs and tweets about the importance of engaging kids in school. Sir Ken says that because we bore our students, and because they are distracted in this “age of distraction,” we anaesthetize our kids so they’ll sit still while we teach them boring stuff. And for the most part, I agree with him.

But here are my concerns:

First, I have worked with some incredibly distracted students. But as anyone who has worked with these kids knows, they are often better described as hyper-attentive. They pay attention to anything, and everything. Which is the problem… in a way. If kids struggle with being able to block out less important stimuli, so they can attend to the “boring stuff” their teachers are talking about, they are likely to miss some “kind of important stuff.” And by the time these kids get to grades 5,6,7 the gaps in their learning are incredible. So do these, or some of these kids need medication? I’d never want to say that only taking meds is the solution. But I do think for some, it is part of the solution. And even discussing the option of talking with a pediatrician about medication is at times an extremely difficult conversation to have with parents who already have their minds made up. This is something I definetly need to look into more. I’m currently reading Dr. Gabor Mate’s Scattered Minds. Such an interesing read.

Second, I have asked my upper elementary EAL classes what they would like to study. I spent an entire class brainstorming ideas with them. I asked them tell me what they are interested in, what are their passions, if they could do anything with their time, what would it be? If they could decide what we would spend our time studying, what would they choose?

Them: ummm…… (blink, blink)…. uuuhhhhh…. video games?

Me: really? **sigh**  Alright, let’s pretend that I understand the fascination with video games , wait a second, my sister has a wii thingy, I like playing the drums and singing on one of the games she has, but I don’t get the odd button guitar thing.

Them: (enthusiastic) That’s Rock Band! YOU, like Rock Band?!

Me: yeah, I think that’s what it’s called (have I established even a mole hill of common ground here?)

And so from there, with much cajoling and scaffolding from me… we came up with this…

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2 Responses to Driver’s seat

  1. Great post! However, I was surprised to see the content of your picture when I blew it up. I thought your brainstorm was somehow going to be related to your “common ground”, video games. How did y’all come to the War in Afghanistan, Chinese and Korean culture, et cetera? I can’t wait to hear about what came of this webbing and see your best attempts at captivating your students.


  2. Tammy says:

    Hi Anthony,

    I laughed when I read your comment. You’re right, the picture is really surprising coming after my post. I did this activity awhile about a month ago. So before I came back to Twitter and started building my PLN and thinking about 21C Learning. But I did recognize right away that I needed to engage these kids in better ways than I was doing. So I presented this discussion as, it’s my job to teach you English so that you can speak, listen, read, and write effectively. How we go about doing that can be up to you? And so… what would you like to learn about? What are you interested in? etc

    Getting from “video games” to the web in my picture took a lot of work and discussion and now that I’m thinking back on it. I’m wondering how many of those ideas were spoon-fed to them. I think “Afghanistan” may have come as a response to me questionning them on what they hear about on the news. So, it’s likely that it’s not something that they may be interested, but rather something someone thought was the answer the teacher wanted.

    But, I’m really curious now to see what they will come up with, if I asked them the same question now. My current position is only temporary, and I am about the third or fourth teacher these kids have seen in a pretty short time. Now I’ve been there over two months, and everyone knows I’m staying. So here’s hoping there’s been some positive relationship building.

    I’m going to ask them this question again on Monday. I’ll post about how it goes.

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