The first day of classes, I put up a scroll of paper and let the kids put sticky notes all over it. Post-It® Notes are wonderful. You can shift them around, you can engage with other people’s information, and you can draw links between them, just like they were pages in a WWW. They put up only 19 for the entirety of the Stone Age: 1.8 million years ago up until about 3000 BC and the first pyramids. It’s an appalling length of time, and we/they knew virtually nothing about it.
Fast forward to day 12 of school. Here’s some of my students at work. The first week they got bored of the Post-It® Notes, and groaned every time I pulled them out. But look: instead of 19 Post-It® Notes, we’re talking 75. And today was only ‘rough draft’ time. Tomorrow is going to be ‘final draft’ time in class. They’ll be experimenting, documenting, discussing. And the discussions they’re having!
Here’s the really cool thing. They’re not listening to me. They’re talking with each other about what happened when, and where. They’re arguing with each other. Sometimes they use words that aren’t appropriate, but they’re learning. They’re being respectful with each other. They’re learning to respect one another’s academic opinions, and manage content together. It’s a classroom of people networking.
And I’m not doing very much beyond facilitating any more. They’re doing a lot of hard work to understand the tools and skills, and the content that I’ve put into their hands, but I’m not droning in lecture formats, and they’re learning a tremendous amount. It’s a tremendous evolution in how I teach; not what I teach, but how.
I haven’t been this happy as a teacher in years.