Teaching for the Real World

A part of the Grade 9 “Digital Citizenship” unit was an anti-bullying project. It’s probably easiest to explain it to you the way we {co-teacher Tamara and I} explained it to them:

“As an anti-bullying campaign, prepare a presentation for Grade 5 students that outlines what bullying is, how they can prevent it, and what to do if they witness someone being bullied.”

Students spent seven days researching, tweeting, blogging, writing, practicing skits, and making videos. {I’ll be honest. Most students spent seven days working on those things. Some students spent seven days pretending to do those things, but actually doing sweet little. And they are so shocked when I’m not impressed that they made half a poster!} A few days before presentation day, CBC happened to be in the building for a media event, also to do with anti-bullying, and caught wind of what we were doing. A reporter asked if she could interview me, to which I said yes. When she found out more about the project, she asked if she could come back to do a story on it. Result:

CBC news story!

Part of the reason Tamara and I decided to have our students present their anti-bullying units to Grade 5 students was so that the assignment would have a real audience – it wasn’t an assignment for the sake of an assignment that would likely end up in the recycle bin, it was a real presentation for other students. If you didn’t get the assignment done on time, it didn’t mean the teacher took off late marks, it meant 54 Grade 5 students were staring at you with question in their eyes. If you did a poor job of the assignment, it didn’t mean the teacher was disappointed in you {which you may or may not care about}, it meant those Grade 5 students were bored/confused/disappointed, and that matters a lot more than any frowny face I could ever make. And when CBC news cameras were there,  it changed from an audience of Grade 5’s to an audience that included parents and grandparents and friends and random strangers. If that doesn’t motivate students to do their best, I don’t know what will. And the students really did exhibit some great work. In fact, at the end when we played some music and got the students to sign the ‘Stand Up to Bullying’ sheets, and our Grade 9’s were mingling and chatting with Grade 5’s, and some of the Grade 5 students were being interviewed by CBC and saying how great the presentation was, I got a bit teary eyed. It was then I realized this wasn’t just a real audience/real world connection for the students, it was for me too.

Sometimes, I forget why I teach. I get bogged down in reports and marking and holding students accountable and redirecting them and chasing them and planning and doing it all over again. It gets frustrating. It feels like no one is listening. It feels like no one is learning. It feels like I’m out there doing the teaching equivalent of Italian fouettes and no one notices. So when CBC was interested and excited about what was going on in my classroom, I felt really encouraged. Grade 5’s learn what to do about bullying, Grade 9’s learn about presenting and deadlines, and I learn that what I does matters. Win-win-win.

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One thought on “Teaching for the Real World

  1. […] master curricular outcomes through the reading of Shakespeare. And, how can I not mention one of her latest projects that can be seen […]

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