My team teacher and I were standing in the hallway this morning when she walked over and whispered, “If I were a kid with all this testing, testing, testing, I wouldn’t want to come to school either.” Gasp! No, actually, I know exactly what she means, school has become the most boring place in the universe for these poor kids.
A large percentage of our students are bored with school. Standardized testing is a huge culprit, along with its accomplice, data. When this is the focus of your classroom, hmmm… how can I say this politely? Your classroom is a huge yawn! And you can’t fully blame the teachers, by any means, their jobs are on the line, if they don’t tow the line. What are we to do?!
I just finished teaching a unit on Addition and Subtraction with large numbers, and I did not want to provide the students with a handout with 25-30 problems on it. Instead, I said to them, “I am giving you $5,000, and you can buy whatever you want!”
First reaction, “Are you really giving us $5,000?” Um, no.
“I am going to let you shop on the Internet with $5,000. Use the exact amount, or as much of it as you can.”
We grabbed our pencils and notebooks and headed to the computer lab. They were so excited, they didn’t even realize I was actually checking out how much they had learned during the unit. We got to the computer lab and I let them loose! They collaborated w/o being told and it was amazing to watch and listen to them use their knowledge. The great part is (besides being tons of fun), was that it applied to many other standards that connect to real life.
“What sites can we go on?” (Appropriate sites)
“Should I buy the one with the sale?” (Making financial decisions)
“Mrs.M, I went over!” (Sticking to a budget)
AND, all the adding and subtracting you could ever need! I also let them use calculators to check their work. Of course, you don’t need a computer, newspaper advertisements would work just as well. The other 5th grade teachers loved my idea, (it’s not original), and they are going to use it tomorrow. Fun is infectious!:)
All this is to say, school should be a place students want to come . No, school doesn’t have to be fun all the time, but can’t it be fun sometimes?