I was able to observe a high school World History class for this assignment. This was a first hour class so students came into the classroom early and casually chatted with the teacher until the bell rang. After the pledge and announcements she transitioned into a warm-up activity, pulling up a prepared journal prompt on the board that asked guiding questions about their current projects. They were tough questions so she walked around to room to make sure students were on the right track. As students finished writing they were directed to quietly continue their research. The transition from journal to project was pretty smooth because they had been doing similar work the day before. The class was able to work for almost 30mins before they started getting antsy. Almost as soon as the chatter began, the teacher stepped in and had them go around the room sharing the most interesting fact they had found on their topic (prompting some great group discussion). The transition at the end of class was not as well directed as the other two. Students would finish their projects at different times and then would disrupt others who were still working, or with the teacher’s permission they would leave class to go work on the school play (this teacher also runs the drama program). With 10 minutes of class time to go, this left the classroom half-full with students working on disparate tasks.
There were two strategies I saw that I would apply in my own classroom. First, the impromptu mini-discussion that headed off potential inappropriate behavior during the students’ research time. This was really effective and the students were eager to share and engage with each other’s projects. Second, the desks were set up in a circle which allowed the teacher to move along the inside and easily check in with students. This shape also helped facilitate group discussion.