Related Posts with Thumbnails

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Peek into Dr Pet's English Class

Impossible Goal

Kids Meeting To Agree, Disagree and Conclude

The children have to do the Deep Reading Comprehension questions as a group. The individual questions stuck on the doors are from the worksheet HERE. I don't believe in pitting children against each other like gladiators to see who is the strongest... so the kids collaborate to find the answers. If you really examine the Deep Reading Comprehension worksheet HERE (and match it to the audio file HERE) you will realize that the questions are highly difficult.

The questions were mostly designed to activate the highest three levels of the Higher Order Thinking skills. If the children had to do this as individuals, they would all cry and give up. I really doubt many adults can arrive at the answers by themselves. In effect, in assigning this worksheet, I had assigned the kids an Impossible Goal (see pg 240 of Dr Pet's book). However, as a group, they gave each other ideas and fed off each other's energy... and this way, they were able to persist through to the answers.

Since the questions were difficult, they could be tedious if the class facilitation were not done right. To counter the tedium of the worksheet, I structured Physical Movement (see pg 269 of Dr Pet's book) into the lesson. The children needed to move back and forth from the questions (stuck on the wall) towards the mat where they wrote their answers on flip chart.

Behaviors Important for Success at Learning

Water Bomb Incentives

This lot of kids have been made to feel stupid in school. They never score at the top of the class and they don't have much confidence in themselves. When they first came to me, they were like skittish deer, ready to hide their intelligence away at the slightest danger to their self-esteem. One took refuge in an endless stream of irrelevant chatter. Another took forever to get work done. He was so afraid that he would get the answers wrong that he thought and RE-thought his work. Another had a melt down at the 6th question in the worksheet I gave on Lesson 1. "It's too difficult for me!" he wailed. 

I needed the children to demonstrate some Behaviors and Attitudes important for Success. So... I structured incentives tied to behaviors and attitudes such as...

(1) Not being afraid to make mistakes
(2) Being able to focus well
(3) Being curious

I had other behaviors and attitudes in my list too but I won't bore you with all the details. Anyway... after every Deep Comprehension question, the facilitator gave out water bombs to 3 of the students. Each time, she tied the reward specifically to a specific behavior. For example, "This water bomb is given to Alec because he focused very well for this question."

The children were NEVER praised nor rewarded for getting the right answer. They were praised and rewarded for demonstrating the behaviors that I deemed important to their success at learning the material. The children then stored their water bombs nicely in their little pails. They were excited about their bombs and went to great lengths to make sure their bombs had no leaks or other erstwhile defects.

A Cutie Pie Storing Away His Bomb

Bombs Away!

As they moved from question to question in the worksheet, the children focused ever and ever better. Their enthousiasm was fed by their successes with previous questions and of course they tried their mostest to be focused so as to get more Water Bombs. 

The facilitator (not me) guided them somewhat but the kids mostly figured the answers out for themselves... which is ABSOLUTELY necessary if they are to get any opportunity to practice Higher Order Thinking skills.

They worked fast and they worked furious because they knew that if they had not completed the whole worksheet by the end of class, they would not get to use their water bombs. In the end, they got a bit wet but I think they had a BLAST of a time.

I know I did! They were so CUTE! And errrrr... by now, thanks to the irreverent facilitator I hired, the children refer to me as The Evil Witch Queen. Maybe I should sack that facilitator. And next class... I think I'll do something with Face Paint.

Nota Bene: Not every class has incentives. Children should not be working hard for incentives. They should work hard because they WANT to, in the same way people WANT to play mahjong. When this group is ready motivationally, I will transit them AWAY from incentives and try to ignite internal drive. Slowly. These things take time.

Click HERE to see a student's work.


Malar said...

Petunia this is really a godd tips for me! ;)

Malar said...

Happy Chinese New Year!