November 6, 2010 by readlisaread
So, ok, I admit it. I only looked at a couple of resources in the “Exchange”, and I always tell my students not to judge until they have looked at lots of information, perhaps I am being hastily judgmental…..however.
A cloze exercise? For Grade 9 Social Studies? On the poem “Flanders Fields”? Really? Followed by Comprehension Questions. Are you freaking KIDDING me? Here’s how this little adventure went down….
I am teaching grade 9 social studies for the first time this year. It’s not, perhaps, the most gripping of all curricula: “A survey of the span of time in European/North American history, 1650 to 1800” Once you lop off a few heads in the Bastille, the exciting stuff is kind of behind you. One of my goals this year, however, is to connect trends and events, ala “What we don’t learn from history we are forced to repeat” (to paraphrase). So, next week being our lead-up to Remembrance Day, I wanted to take a look at the Holocaust. As always, I try where I can to multi-purpose my activities, so my plan was to do a SMARTboard demo lesson, a bit of background writing on the Holocaust, and do some work together to edit and extract main idea, make notes, etc.
Now, I don’t have a SMARTboard in my room (however, I did make a Wii-Smart board, and it’s fairly stable). I haven’t spent a lot of time creating products in SMART Notebook, and have spent very little time in front of the Real Thing. So, my plan was to take the kids over to the library, use that Board to do my lesson, and then we have the library for the research and writing part. Awesome.
Next, I navigate to the SMART Exchange to look for pre-made lessons on my topic. *scratchy-record noise sound effect*.
After SMARTboards hit the scene and created an uproar, it wasn’t long before the skeptics started their own backlash. It basically went like this: “SMARTBoards are the best for student engagement and improving teaching practices!” “Uh, no. Good teachers are always engaging no matter what they stand in front of, and just because kids are interested in the new Bright-Shiny, that is no indication that they are learning more”.
I can be skeptical, but I also love the Bright-Shiny. So, I was determined not to fall into one camp or the other until I’d really had some time to see it through. We have 3 SMARTboards in the school. One gets moderate use, one gets occasional use, and one gets used not at all. Hmmm…..engaged students and improved teaching practices? I think not….
Anyway, the upshot of all of this is, I thought I would really give it a good go with this activity, I went to the bank to find a lesson already created by an Engaging Professional….and arrived at a very fancy and high-tech Cloze Exercise and Related Comprehension Questions on one of the most moving and image-rich poems of the 20th century. Oh no wait, one of the Questions did ask “Do you think the poppies were particuarly chosen because the colour red could represent blood on the battlefield?”