The following post, originally appeared in my Digressive Discourse blog at the Center for Teaching Quality's Collaboratory. I do the activities when I have new students at the beginning of each semester.
I'm feeling very "Piratey" these days. School is back after winter break, and my new 8th grade engineering students are completing the trials I wrote about in Teaching Secrets: Getting to Know Students Through Seating Challenges.
On the first day in previous semesters, students would follow up the seating challenge by completing a written survey with questions like, "What do you do in your spare time?" Or, "What would you like Mr. Merz to know about you?" I expected them to work silently on their answers, and we practiced silent minutes until we all agreed on what silence sounded like. Rather, we practiced until they agreed with me about what silence sounded like. As I dismissed them that first day, I'd let them know that we'd figure out our rules as the need develops....