When students become the teachers - Mis Clases Locas

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Teaching with Novels

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When students become the teachers

Today a wonderful, unexpected thing happened in Spanish IV. All of the sudden two students were up at the front boards leading the class in reviewing the novel Cajas de Cartón. (I have also blogged about planning literature conversation circles with this novel). While this bright group never ceases to amaze me, today I leaned back in my chair in the back of the room, and just took it in thinking to myself, "Wow, they have really learned some Spanish."

Granted this class is small, only ten of the best and brightest, but I just marvel at the great leaders they have become. These were my sophomore babies, who I also had in homeroom my first year, and am now in my third year as being their teacher. The last two years teaching this novel have been a struggle and fight, because "it was too hard" and I made them (gasp!) read, think, write, and discuss a real novel in Spanish. But this year, it has just gone so smooth! Granted, I am yet to see their final essay test they will complete Thursday, but if it is anything like their class discussions, I think I will be impressed. 

Today a few students were out on a government field trip to the state capital, and I had just roughly planned that we would finish discussing the end of the book, as well as review for the essay test. I have learned that with a bright group like this one, I ASK THEM, how they would like to review, and what they would like to discuss. Suddenly, a student was up at the board making a timeline of important events in the book, and another on the other side making a family tree with characteristics of each main character, from the input given by their classmates. Sure, I was providing probing questions and occasional suggestions from the back, but the STUDENTS were the ones facilitating the class. 

Today really reminded me first of all how blessed I am to have this wonderful class, one that I honestly look forward to every day. It was also great to be the coach on the sideline (like Amy Lenord), watching the team captains run the plays. I completely understand that something like this, offering unlimeted choice, may can not work in every class. (I am especially thinking of my rowdy class of freshman boys who need every minute planned or they erupt in mass chaos). At the same time, maybe I have not seen this kind of leadership from the freshman, because I have been doing them a disservice, insisting on a teacher focused class for reasons of behavior management. Either way, I need to remember that choice should not just be for Real World Homework, but everyday in the classroom as well. 

So no, I do not have any resources to share today. It is more of post for a proud mama bear to reflect on how far we have come as a class. But I will leave you with this thought I am pondering.

Does my class allow the students the opportunity to amaze me?

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