Trials and Tribulations
We lost some momentum over the weekend. I really wanted my students to try and read Thoreau on their own. I know his writing is difficult, but I gave them some guided reading questions to help them through the piece. Well, that didn’t work. I got tons of push back. I’m not sure if it was because it was a Monday, if the questions and material were too difficult, or if they just didn’t want to do the reading. Probably a combination of all three if I had to guess. So, the next day we read Thoreau together and discussed his beliefs and how his ideas and actions have had an impact on our world. I got an “Amen” and a “Yeah right” as we read. Kids are funny when they connect to something.
What Kind of Test is This?
I don’t give tests often, but I wanted to see if my students understood the readings from Emerson and Thoreau. When we read and discuss as a class, it’s not always easy to “see” who has been a bystander. I created a fifteen question multiple choice test on Edmodo for the first part of the test. The quiz feature on Edmodo is awesome. It creates these little pie charts showing the percentage of correct and incorrect responses for each question. This allows me to see where the misunderstandings are the greatest.
For the second part of the test, I asked the students to write a ten word summary and find an image to correlate to their summary. I got a few groans for the second part. That surprised me because I thought the second part would be more fun, and they usually complain about getting traditional tests. The process was definitely not a smooth one. I shared links to sources for creative commons pictures on Edmodo only to discover they were all blocked. I finally gave up and told the kids to find images on Google search. I had them copy the link to the images, shorten them and then paste the link to the photo to give credit to the owner. Not ideal, but sometimes we have to improvise when sites are blocked. I am not sure I would do this again as a test. A lot of the kids struggled creating the ten word summaries. I will definitely have to re-think this for next year.
Back on Track
I got really lucky. A friend from my twitter stream, Daniel Scibienski tweeted this:
I thought it was a great idea and the perfect way to get my students’ interest peaked, to draw them back in. I showed them a version of the Milgram Experiment video and we had an interesting discussion about authority and individual conscience. They were shocked that so many of the people just kept pushing those buttons. They were even more shocked that they did it for a grand total of $4.oo.
We then read the handouts from the Asia Society I mentioned in the last post. My students were able to tie Thoreau’s ideas to Ghandi and to Martin Luther King as we read their pieces.
Now, we are wrapping up the unit by taking what we learned from Thoreau, Ghandi and King about non-violent resistance and applying it to our original discussion on the Occupy Movement. My students are writing a persuasive essay stating whether they agree or disagree if the Occupy Movement will be successful or not. They will be using material from the literature as well as from current news to support their opinions. Hopefully, they now have a better understanding of the dissenters and how they continue to have an impact on our world today.