Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Teacher (10/26/06)
TITLE: Learning in the City
By Dennis Fletcher
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As the kids began taking their seats he noticed that the kids acted the same, just dressed differently. He realized that the social classes remained together and the ones who didn’t fit in seemed to always be timid and fearful. He decided to do something about it, to change their outlooks on life, even if it were just for this class.
He began to note where each clique was sitting and where those who didn’t fit in sat, and quickly came up with a new seating order. He decided to move the chairs around in clusters, putting one kid from each clique in the cluster. This experiment was going to be rough, but hopefully, it would help the kids learn about each other.
Once everyone was seated and the bell had rung, he cleared his throat and stood up. A large, muscular man, he knew he could look intimidating, though he never really tried. “My name is Mr. Thompson and I will be your American History teacher. My goal for this semester is to make this fun for you and still teach you about this wonderful country you live in. The very first thing I would like for all of you to do is this, move your desks into clusters of six, then stand at the back of the room.” When he finished, the kids started to murmur and whisper, but they did as they were asked. When they were done, there were only four desks not touched. “Would the four largest boys please move these four desks into a cluster beside my desk?” He asked. Four boys, all wearing letterman jackets moved forward and did what he asked without complaint.
When everything was finished, he began to tell them where their new seat was. He would choose one person from each cluster of kids. He watched the expressions on their faces as the jocks, Goths, geeks and preps were all seated next to each other. He would leave a desk or two empty on purpose at each cluster so he could fill them at the end. Finally, when all of the kids were seated, he sat on his desk, facing them.
“Your assignment for this class, other than to learn American History, is to create your own America. I will provide you with a map of the United States as it was in the seventeen hundred’s.” He stopped, waiting for the murmurs to settle down. “You will divide it amongst yourselves and create a free country. The only rule is that there is to be equal distribution of everything and all states must work together. Any civil unrest will be points lost and any civil war will result in a failed grade for the entire cluster. I will decide, based upon how well you get along with your cluster as to whether or not there are any of those going on.”
The students began to really get into there project, taking lessons learned from points of history during David’s lesson plans and from their study projects. Each group was actually getting along and creating countries with great ideas abounding between them. David was amazed that they could put aside differences so quickly to complete this project. He also noticed that there seemed to be a difference in how they treated each other outside of the classroom. Jocks were sticking up for the ones who were weaker and the Goths seemed to be smiling more.
At the end of the semester, each cluster turned in their projects and David began his grading for the final grades. As he went through the class grades he realized that no one had gotten below a high B. His experiment had worked; they all worked off each other in an effort to complete the project. He sat back and smiled, already forming his plans for the next semester, when they came back for World History.
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