Tuesday 1 May 2012

Learning from the Student Teacher

Students begin on the full mat

The habitat is shrinking and students have to fit into the new space
Less and less habitat
Finally the students can no longer all fit...
One of our student teachers finished his practicum on Friday, so in his honour I am publishing one of his lessons that I had the chance to observe. The lesson was on the consequences of global warming and the destruction of the environment, and the teacher began the lesson with a huge blue tarp spread out in the middle of the room.

What I enjoyed about the lesson the most was that the student teacher didn't give his students any information in advance. The students were curious from the moment they walked in the class and saw the desks moved out of the way and the tarp covering most of the floor. He had the students arrange themselves on the mat and then kept kicking them off and folding the mat into smaller and smaller portions. The questions kept coming and he refused to answer:

What's the mat for?
Why are we doing this?
I don't think we're all going to be able to fit on there..

Then the questions became more purposeful...

How small is the mat going to get?
Does this represent something?
Is this connected with our unit?
Are we allowed to help each other fit?
Is there any other space we are allowed to go to?
Does this have something to do with animals losing their habitat?
Is this about the polar bears?
Is this about the ice fields?
Is this about pollution?
What happens when we don't all fit anymore?
Where do the people who don't fit go?
This isn't a good situation.
Are the people who can't fit on the mat the animals who become extinct?
Are the people on the mat the animals that evolve and adapt?
Are the people left on the mat the actual humans who kill everything else?

The students were curious and engaged throughout the first 40 minutes,  and the activity led to a good discussion about the environmental consequences of irresponsible human behaviour. The students were also moving around the classroom for most of the class, so it was a brilliant choice for a last block on a Friday afternoon.

*Note: Student faces have been blurred as we did not get every student's permission to post the photos.

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