Today my kids had an assignment, they were put in groups and had to “act out” the phases of the moon. I didn’t care how they did it or what they used, their only requirement it to use their bodies. So cheesy activity but really shows me who and who does not know what is going on. While one of the groups were practicing and getting their “act” together a student asked me “Mrs. Dykes is this going to be graded?” This is the teacher’s most annoying question. So I answered “um yeah” and the student then went on to say “But it is not a worksheet, how can you give me a grade for it?” Ummmmmm. “Because you worked on this and it shows me what you know.” The students then went back to their groups and started pow-wowing on how worksheets would be so much easier.
[Now before I get comments on how grading is bad, I really don't want to hear about it, I do not get a choice, I have to give kids grades and I work really hard to have them reflect what they are learning more than just an average]
Well here is my problem. My goal for my students this year is as follows: Learn. Become problem solvers. Become thinkers. You see none of that includes fill in worksheets, become better test takers, know more about my curriculum, make A’s. Yes I want them to know my curriculum but it comes with the rest of it. See I don’t even have worksheets to give them.
The question becomes this, why do they want boring worksheets? Well, it is easy. It is part of playing school. See, for years they have been playing school. Showing up in the morning, filling in worksheets with answers from the book, getting study guides exactly like the test, taking the tests. All of this usually equals an A. It becomes so easy to get in the motions of school.
Our job as educators is to get them out of this. Stop look at your grade book and your lesson plans. Are the activities focused on learning or are they part of playing school? I have been in the past been guilty of allowing this, but I can really hope that as of now, playing school will get you nowhere in this classroom. Sometimes it is as simple as going back through bloom taxonomy and making sure we are focusing on the top of the pyramid instead of the bottom.
Playing school is easy on both the teacher and the student. But easy is not always better. In reality we are cheating out students out of a real education.