The Final Days

This week I had the opportunity to implement the lesson plan I created for the World History courses. I would be taking point in 4th period for the activities. The first day consisted of the students breaking into groups and learning about their individual topic. The students were then expected to present their category of achievements to the rest of the class. To me the most important part of their presentations were their thoughts on why those achievements are important in the present day. At the end of class the students had a small discussion on which category they think the Romans had the most significant achievements in. All in all it was a relatively smooth day according to Mr. Trousil.

The next day before class had even started I realized I had not scaffolded the individual activities enough on the worksheets. I had designed the activity to engage the younger students, but hadn’t provided them with individual steps that would be most appropriate for their grade level. Each group would require some individual instruction on my part to guide them. I would have to bounce from group to group, but at least I realized it before the lesson. The class started moving pretty quickly and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they actually did not need as much individual guidance per group. Once I had briefly explained each assignment at the beginning they only needed a few corrections here and there. The science group which was building Plato’s solar system needed the most guidance, but that was expected.

Another thing I expected in some form was the response of the Law and Poetry/History/Philosophy groups. Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of an activity that involved some sort of physical creation for those two groups so they had mainly writing assignments. The writing assignments were not easy, but they were more of the typical assignment given in class and seeing other groups doing something extraordinary was unfair. Perhaps I should have let them see each assignment before they picked the category they wanted. Of course the best option would have been to have something physical for them to do as well.

At the end of class every group had fully completed their assignment, with a small exception to the science group who had not fully finished painting the planets. I had the students perform a final exit assignment before class was over in which they commented on the activity and how the class went overall. I was surprised at the response. It was overwhelmingly positive; even from the Literature and Law groups. The consensus from the Literature group was that the assignment was much more difficult than they expected, but once they got into the groove of writing their poems they ended up enjoying it. The Law group also enjoyed their assignment, but they did voice that they would have liked to try another group’s activity. That is an area that I definitely hope to improve on the next time I use the lesson.

My final activity was chaperoning a field trip with Mr. Mead for his Honors World History classes. We took 30 students to the Field Museum to see a few exhibits that were especially relevant to his class. The Field Museum happened to have a lot of really relevant exhibits. The Chicago World’s Fair, ancient Egypt, ancient Africa, and the ancient Americas all had their own exhibits. Field trips have fallen off the map for many high schools due to logistical issues so it was really nice to see a teacher taking a pro-active role in arranging one. Chicago is especially plentiful in external historical resources with the Field Museum, Holocaust Museum, the Chicago History Museum, various cultural museums, and many more. In my Secondary Education Methods course for history at Loyola we took a visit to the Chicago History Museum and went over methods to fully take advantage of museum resources.  Students react quite differently to history when they can see or even touch physical objects in front of them. It brings a new sense of reality and connection that the classroom cannot fully replicate. It was nice to see that effect in person. I hope to organize as many relevant field trips to my class as possible.

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