If you have not read Dave Burgess' book entitled Teach Like a Pirate, I do not know what you are waiting for. It is full of great strategies for increasing engagement in your classroom. The main premise is that teachers over-look the fact that we are entertainers. The students are suppose to be active participants in our show that we are producing daily. Dave goes so far as to dress the part in several of his history classes. I am not there yet...but, I am trying.
The part of Dave's book that really struck home with me was how we can increase engagement by just holding "court" in a different location. Where can I take my class (literally) to maximize the learning experience? Today that place was our cafegymatorium.
Yes, I did combine three words into one. But, being a smaller school, we do not have the luxury of three separate parts to our campus. Anyhow, I saw the opportunity to have my math classes head to the cafegymatorium for a review on area and perimeter. The basketball court gave us a great chance to calculate the area and perimeter (and circumference) of the entire court, one of the lanes and the center circle.
What I witnessed during the day was kids working together in groups to measure the different side lengths. It was very interesting observing the different methods kids used to gather the information needed. I did not specify the number of kids in the group, but they seemed to stick with groups of 2 or 3. While the students were working, I used this opportunity to walk around and informally talk with the kids about how they found the area of the circle, why they only measured halfway down the court or why only measured halfway across the circle. The answers were varied, but right on target.
Did I have 100% engagment 100% of the time? No. Did I have 100% of the kids engaged most of the time? Yes. I think too many educators feel things are not a success unless they get 100% of the kids 100% of the time. Talk about setting an unrealistic goal!!
The engagement was extremely high during this lesson. I was very excited about the feedback I received from kids while they were working. Students that before I had to stand next to keep them "with me" were asking if they could give a second set of answers in yards or square yards after completing what I required of them. Yes, there was conversation. But, the conversations were about math. The students were focused on the task at hand. The real-world activity kept their interest. I love the sound of kids "disappointed" that the bell rang to end the period. Yup, it was that kind of day. A day full of treasure. Many thanks to Dave Burgess for the "map" to help me locate that treasure.