Monday, March 12, 2012

SOLSC: When they just don't get it...

After all my optimism about how much confidence I have in the classroom on any given day, of course today's lesson imploded. It wasn't something I had just thrown together to kill time, either. What we're learning in staff development about Common Core is that students can read shorter pieces of more complex texts and get the same amount of value. I'm not totally with that argument, but I'm willing to (occasionally) truncate what I'm assigning if it gets my students thinking at a higher level.

So today I broke my class into small groups and assigned each of them about 60 lines of Edgar Allan Poe's The Masque of the Red Death. Each group had vocabulary words from that section to define, they had to write a brief summary, illustrate the scene of their section and write 3 questions and give the answer. On paper, it seemed like a well-rounded lesson where we could piece the story together as a class to figure out the plot as well as get some depth with regards to the writer's craft. They had already viewed the A&E Biography about Poe so they knew some biographical information which could lead us to concluding that Poe wrote about death and its effect on those who are left living because he experienced significant losses on his journey through life, particularly to TB, hence my choice of Masque.

In circulating the room I found that not only did my students not understand what they were reading, but they didn't understand the assignment. I'm not saying what I wrote was perfect, but I know it was clear in terms of the instructions. This left me frustrated; how can my students not even understand what I want them to do? And what's worse: they didn't ask! Is this a cultural thing with this particular type of teen? Do they isolate themselves so much with things like social media that they can't even consider asking a question? I pride myself on my ability to build relationships with students. I think this may be why I'm so frustrated and disappointed with myself.

So I'm back to the drawing board with this lesson. How would my fellow teachers correct the problem with students not reading the directions, not following them, or not asking any questions for clarification? I greatly appreciate any feedback!!

1 comment:

Delighted said...

I had to smile as I read your slice. I think that students not reading directions, asking questions, or just not following directions is a universal problem! I have taught 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 1st. In each of these grades, I have seen this problem over and over again. Thanks for sharing your frustration. We are in this together!

First Grade Delight