Chopped Part 2

posted Apr 27, 2015, 3:26 PM by Kevin Roughton   [ updated Nov 29, 2015, 5:41 PM ]
Well, I still hate Jigsaw as a learning method. Despite all my great hopes after hearing my students' discussions with one another in the planning phases very little actual learning actual took place among the groups. As usual, each group really learned their own topic but very little about many of the others. The simple fact is that teaching is really, really hard. Asking students to do what we do is almost impossible. I wouldn't expect my doctor to ask me to perform surgery on the next patient to walk in the door so asking our students to do essentially that just doesn't seem wise.

Let the record show I gave it my all.

Here's what I did like:
-Students left with a deep understanding of how hard being a teacher really is. Does that mean anything? Will they be more appreciative in future years? Beats me, but it is something.
-The interactive pieces were pretty cool. I will be using some of them myself in this unit in the future.
-Many of the kids really took it seriously. They wanted the rest of the class to learn.
-An awesome Trans-continental railroad simulation where students formed links of the track with their bodies until they met at the "golden spike."
-An equally awesome TCR simulation where students marched around the room making train noises.
-A really fun version of tag based on the Fugitive Slave Act.
-The student who taught me more about John Brown from memory than I'd read in multiple books.
-A great analogy of the impact of Uncle Tom's Cabin where the teacher asked "How many of you believe in God? How would you feel if someone just came in this room and said your beliefs were not only wrong but making the world a worse place?"
-A cool Tariff of Abominations Sim where taxes in the form of candy were forcefully taken away from South Carolina by the army.
-A really fun act it out of the Bully Brooks simulation where I got to narrate with a deep, British accent.


And what I didn't:
-Long presentations with extraneous information.
-Overstuffed powerpoint slides with no indication of what to do with the information.
-Little summing up or paraphrasing of complex ideas.
-"Teachers" using words they didn't know..
-Teaching way too quickly.
-Overall lack of content learning.

Now, it may just be that I'm still too caught up in the CST world of needing everything to be about content and I just don't yet appreciate the learning that happens in the process but I'm frustrated by the lack of learning. I think when (if?) I do something like this again I'll simplify it even further. I'll cut it down to just having them design the interactive elements. I'll do the content instruction and leave the fun up to them. That would take a heck of a lot less time, ensure the content is delivered and still leave the positive outcomes intact. 

Overall this was an interesting experiment - and certainly better than past attempts at Jigsaw - that just came up short of my hopes.
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