100 Days of Awesome – Day 63

1. Awesome was the enthusiasm I witnessed at various points throughout the day yesterday when I was teaching. I’ll give you an example:

I have a class of students, most of whom are quite strong (especially in Math). But, they are often either unengaged in activities, or struggling to stay focused and make themselves present within the larger group.

Awhile ago, after months of spending a lot of my preparation time turning content into games and activities that, though they helped, still didn’t up engagement to satisfactory levels, I decided to integrate a number of “challenges” throughout the day. Students’ names are written on the board and I start most classes with a “challenge” to both review previously learned content and elicit responses in class discussions.

For example, in Math, I’ll tell everybody to put their hands on their heads (this, I’ve found, has reduced “cheating, as I have a few who like to grab their friends’ arms or shove them as a distraction while they “steal” the question), and I ask a question. The first to raise their hand gets to answer, and if they answer correctly, they get a point (if they don’t, they all put their hands on their heads again and the next person gets to try).

In other classes, like Social Studies, Science or English, I use this strategy to elicit responses in discussions. The only difference is that their hands are their “thinking caps”. I tell them to put their hands on their heads, and I ask them a question but they must wait a set number of seconds (during which I tell them to think about what the question is really asking) before raising their hands. This helps reduce the shouting out of answers at random, and encourages them to actually think about their response.

Most of the time, the points are worth nothing more than the sheer pleasure of participating and winning – though every so often, I do throw in a small prize so it doesn’t get stale (but not often enough that they expect it).

Yesterday, the “challenges” had my students so engaged that they were all jumping up and down (some were even standing on their chairs) in order to be seen, and they were so excited that they exclaimed their answers.

2. Awesome was getting my flight information for the upcoming union congress in Montréal. My flight will be long (taking me from here, to Kuujjuaq, to Inukjuaq and then to Montréal over the course of 9 hours), and the congress will be busy, but it will give me the change of scenery that I’ve been craving.

3. Awesome was my first yoga session in a week – stretching muscles that had grown taut after a week of running and cardio. It felt fantastic and refreshing.

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