I try really hard to not blame kids. When something isn't going the way I want it to in the classroom, I try to shoulder the responsibility. This doesn't always work. Sometimes I go down that road of blaming, but I don't think I has ever been productive for the long term. I can, through the stupid power that we sometimes have as teachers, create compliant kids for a short term, but not under an atmosphere that I enjoy or one that is conducive to learning.
For the big chunk of the year in 7th grade Life Science, we learn about how the human body works. The goal is to investigate the main body systems and get an idea of how they interact to make us work. I have been struggling for years to come up with something to really pull this together. I have a lot of great activities, some neat labs, good reading materials...but I was missing a big piece. I feel like I need more open assessments, something that has less of a correct answer. Something a big obscure, but will connect to what I am doing.
Yesterday was terrible. I thought I had an extension project set up, and the kids flat didn't like it. Now, they would DO it, but I wasn't seeing any passion. I was getting a lot of procedural questions and a fair bit of off task behavior. The cell phones were driving me nuts. Then I had to remember, what I find cool and interesting may not be what they find cool and interesting. These are mostly 12 and 13 year old kids. The internal working of an invasive species in the Florida Everglades just isn't cutting it.
So I switched gears. What is my goal? I want them to connect the body systems we are talking about to something, in a novel way, to see how it makes an entire organism function. Well, why not just have them "build" an organism from the ground up. That's the project, that we will attempt to extend through our body systems learning. "Create" an organism. Be goofy and creative and fun and crazy. We will share through blogs and online posters.
First period today, a student had to figure out how a spider's digestive system works because the craziness she came up with somehow involved a spider. No cell phone issues today. Kids were taking them out to take pictures of each other's creations. Class ended too quickly.
I'm worried about misconceptions. Organisms are not "created." There is no such thing as a unibear. I am aware of these misconceptions on the forefront, and we can deal with those. Each day that kids are not being curious, is a big day lost. I can't deal with that. Their excitement was overwhelming. They're still kids. They are goofy, immature, morphing pre-teens and barely-teens. And I like them that way!
And some of them are learning about the spider's digestive system and comparing it to ours...not because I MADE them, because I LET them.