As I reflect on my teaching, I feel most of what I do fall just left of engagement on the continuum. Maybe I’m being too hard on myself, but I usually am. However, this is tons better than where I started five years ago with Social Studies.
When I reflect back on my first 2 years in the classroom, it was based on compliance. Sit down. Here’s a worksheet. Here’s a webquest. Here’s a packet. Read Chapter 2 and answer these questions. Here’s a map. Let’s go over last night’s homework. When I reflect on these things, it kind of embarrasses me but I guess most of us have been there, done that. I was closer to compliance than engagement.
Now I am closer to engagement with sprinkles of empowerment. I’m not where I need to be, but the classroom culture I’m striving to create is so much different than it used to be. This school year, I have grown to appreciate having 5 different things taking place within the 50 minute period. It’s typical to have 3 students just starting a hyperdoc, 5 students choosing to create with legos, 2 students choosing to write, and 4 students choosing to do a Flipgrid to show what they know. These are the days I see engagement through choice. These are the days that would have freaked me out 5 years ago, but now make me smile.
The “sprinkles” of empowerment I have found this year come i the form of Wonder Projects. I got this idea from John Spencer and used it at the beginning of the school year. I liked using it at the beginning of the year because students chose whatever they wonder about, researched, and create a way to share what they learned with others. It gave me a chance to learn more about the students and their interests. I began using this same format at the end of units.
When we reached the end of a unit, I would ask the students what they wonder about the colonies, or the American Revolution. I would encourage them to think of something that interested them, or they wondered about, and explore it further. It was open ended, lasted a week, and we shared out. Was it perfect? No. But, it gave them a choice and a chance to learn more about a history related topic further.