Thursday, May 19, 2016

Butts in the air

It is no surprise that most students have things they find more interesting than schoolwork.  During an average ordinary day of school, the list of more-preferred activities is long.  Even during our best learning activities, it would be tough to find a kid who would rather get their hands dirty with a plate tectonics lesson using cookies and dirt instead of mine craft or soccer or fishing.  In other words, no matter what you have designed for kids to do in school, there is probably something each child would rather do.

How do we tap into that?  How do we bring it to life in our classrooms?  How do we design learning so that kids use their own interests to drive the things you need to learn.

We have all seen that lesson where kids are truly into it!  Stephen Barkley says that you can tell what kind of lesson is happening in a classroom by the number of butts in the air.  When all the butts are in the air and all the head are pointed at the same activity, engagement is high!  When all the butts are in the air and they are crawling around the room, engagement is non-existent.

Lesson design is not simply choosing the next page out of the textbook, running some copies, then showing kids how to do the work on the whiteboard.  Lesson design digs deeply into the learning objective.  What do the kids need to master during this lesson?  How will I know if they master it?  Then the big question...What is the best possible way to ensure that they can learn it?

I doubt the answer is to open a textbook and do a worksheet.  How do we get butts in the air!?!?!?!