On the third day of our pre-internship, I had the pleasure of working with our co-op’s neighbour in a social studies class. The class that I was teaching happened to be the second group of students I taught the week before, so I was already feeling comfortable with them.
I was clueless about what to do for a Social Studies lesson, however my wonderful co-op mentioned that I could do a theme revolving around Remembrance Day, as it was approaching within the next month. I thought about what serious activities I could do with this important day, because in grade seven, we should be breaking down the meaning of Remembrance Day as a whole. Following this thought, I decided to bring in a carousel activity that I had learned in my last few years of university. I printed out seven pictures demonstrating the affects of war; specially the Korean War, because in grade seven Social Studies, they primarily learn about countries boarding the Pacific Rim. I had chart paper at each of the stations and split my students up into seven groups. Each group will go through each of the stations writing how the photograph makes them feel and what they feel is happening in the photo and they will switch stations every two minutes. Once they get to their original station, they will look over what has been added throughout the activity and present their charts and what stood out to them, and the common theme.
The first class went well, they engaged in appropriate discussions in the photographs, talking about what could have been happening in a picture, how it makes them feel, how the individuals in that photo felt… It was very rewarding to see these students become engaged and participate. The only critiques I had for myself and from others were that: a) my video hook at the beginning of class could not get sound, so I had to get it straightened out before the next class and b) I was not able to get to the end of my activity, time ran over. However, in spite of those two things, I was already super confident in my activity for the next class… it actually did not go as planned.
The second class, I STILL could not figure out the video (technology and I do not mix!) however, the students were even more engaged in the video because of that; they wanted to take it all in. The instruction did not go as planned; I think that I rushed it a little because of the fact that we did not have time to do the end of my lesson, where I would tie the outcome and the activity together. Because instruction was a little rushed, I did a lot of hopping from group to group, as there was a lot of confusion involving the activity, which lead to disengagement. As I was running around helping clarify instructions, I became a little frazzled and stressed. I was able to make it to the end of my activity, where I tied the outcome with the purpose of the activity and that is when the lightbulbs went off and we had a genuine discussion as a class about the Korean War, with more students adding their own opinions and knowings to the group.
The idea of the activity is that children will begin to see how every one of their peers think differently and understand the seriousness of war; that it is not what is often portrayed. I feel that my students understood that and therefore are more aware of Remembrance Day as a whole, what it represents.