This year we decided to give some relief by reducing the minutes to math and ELA and adding a semester of integrated math/science and a semester of integrated ELA/social studies to each student's schedule.
My assignment this year is to teach one section of 7th grade math and four sections of the integrated class. It's been tough because we are really creating this class as we go.
So far, this is what I've learned:
- Students will do exactly what you tell them to do.
- Students have trouble breaking large (essential) questions down into smaller (guiding questions) questions.
- Students think "try harder" is a plan.
- Establishing protocols is essential.
- Scaffolding doesn't just refer to content.
- Changing "Why?" into "Tell me more about that" is magic.
- "Common knowledge" isn't so common.
- We need to do a better job of helping students distinguish between opinion and argument.
- After 16 years of teaching, I still get excited when students realize that thinking is better than memorizing.
- Any list worth reading stops at 10.