Letting the Kids be in Charge

I tried something new this week on Thursday.  I knew the kids had to get all the definitions to our Animal Farm vocabulary down one way or another and I have been espousing my belief in PBL principles for a couple of years now.  So here is what I did.  I pulled the first two kids who came into class aside and told them they were going to be the leaders, the bosses, for class today.  Most kids responded in a pretty positive way.  I gave them the task of creating a wikipage that had each of the 40 vocabulary words, their top two definitions, and an image that represented the vocabulary word.  I told them they had a few minutes to plan while I explained what was going on to the other 10 or so students I have each period of the day in my gifted pullout classroom.  I feel a little bad for the first two class leaders, because I had no clues to give them to make things go a little easier, and maybe I shouldn’t have given later classes clues that I did…but it can be difficult for me, and probably other teachers as well to watch their students struggle.  I told them that whichever class created the best page would receive an automatic 100% on the first Animal Farm quiz.  Here are the results.

  1. Period 2 Vocabulary Page
  2. Period 3 Vocabulary Page
  3. Period 4 Vocabulary Page
  4. Period 5 Vocabulary Page
  5. Period 9 Vocabulary Page

Some of my classes finished, others did not.  I know these pages will improve over the next couple of days as well because I know my students.

I set down very simple guidelines including the leaders are in charge and you need to be working on the task the entire time you are in class.  Also, all questions were to be directed to the class bosses.  Gifted kids are interesting in that many of them really feel as though they must be given explicit instructions of exactly what and how they are supposed to do everything…God forbid they should make a mistake.  It is something I work on them with, and hopefully help them improve upon.  Because as I tell them, I believe that their are no such things as mistakes, only opportunities to learn and grow.  My classroom was a little like real life on that Thursday.  Some of the leaders struggled as others really excelled.  My hope is that the kids learned some valuable lessons about working together to achieve a goal…and I think they did.  I plan doing more activities like this in the future.  It was a real Quadrant D type activity, I think.  Do you agree?

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