Inspiring the Next Generation

I have some interesting news to share.

The Grade 10s in one of the schools where I sub began their poetry unit in English this week. I subbed for them yesterday.

One of their tasks yesterday was to write a poem in one of the forms they had already learned, then share these with the class. There were some very reluctant students; they had a low opinion about this sharing business, particularly their contributive involvement in it.

 

 

I decided to break the ice by sharing one of my poems. And I had access to two: those I published in my writing blog, which you can alternatively link to through the Write Group wiki.

The poem I chose to share was Van Gogh and the Moon. It was a hit, particularly when I explained to the kids that the poem was an in promptu (five minute) response to a writing prompt in the local writing club.

So, yes, I got a chance to plug the Write Group as well; I told the kids that students from the school were part of the group, which peeked more interest.

But more importantly, it got each of the students to open up and share some of their poems, not just those they wrote in class yesterday, but those they had access to through their iPhones and other devices.

It was a perfect marriage of teacher and student sharing, technology (I used the Smart board; the students used their devices), and encouragement and modelling by example.

It never ceases to amaze me how well these teachable moments go when the teacher releases control and opens up to her or his students. (Of course, it also never ceases to amaze me how badly such moments go as well at times. There is a definite case for timing and thoughtful and responsive judgement here.)

These students have everything to be proud of. They have incredible imaginations, and a deep and active appreciation for written communication.

Moments like these remind me how much I love teaching, and learning with, these students.

This article is cross-posted in Digital Substitute and Stefras’ Bridge.

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2 thoughts on “Inspiring the Next Generation

  1. Dear Shawn
    As a proponent of math education in the United States, we need your help to promote our nationwide math competition by blogging or posting about it on your blog/forum.

    As you probably already know, despite the fact that the US spends the most money on education per capita, our students are ranked 25th globally for math proficiency. The MATHCOUNTS Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to improving that statistic. MATHCOUNTS’ third annual “ Math Video Challenge” is a math competition for 6th to 8th graders that encourages student innovation as they create and star in their own math videos, thus exciting them to pursue higher education in math.

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    For more information on MATHCOUNTS or the Math Video Challenge, visit our webpages at mathcounts.org and videochallenge.mathcounts.org/math-camera-action.

    Respectfully,
    Jake Byrnes

    • Math has always been a subject of puzzles and riddles to me. The more challenging and thought-provoking the question or task, the more fun the game. I am one of those fortunate few who struggled in every subject, but absolutely loved learning. To me, yes, tests were fun, particularly if novel questions were asked that provoked new learning. A test that does not teach is useless. I learned in my time like most kids do today: by following directions. (At home, I explored freely whatever subject and topic interested me at the moment. The learning was less thorough but much deeper.)

      I never had opportunities in school to explore math and express my learning in the way the MATHCOUNTS Foundation Math Video Challenge offers. In fact, I don’t remember ever presenting any math work to anyone during my schooling, except for the occasional working of solutions on the chalk board. I urge all grade 6 to 8 students to try understanding some math you have never seen before and looks really interesting to you. Then show us, your fellow students, teachers, parents, future students and people around the World, what you discovered. The reward will be in the struggle, the discovery and the thrill of sharing the wonders of what you have learned. It is recently said that science is the poetry of Reality; I argue that math is Reality’s language. What is the World saying to you?

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