Monday, August 22, 2011

Never Underestimate Your Students

While I was working on lesson plans for this week, I planned a lesson on hatching and cross-hatching for my third graders. The lesson also incorporated the concepts of light and shadow. Everything was planned out when I went to bed last night, ready to implement this morning. However, as I was lying awake trying to fall asleep, I kept thinking that the lesson was too complicated and advanced for third-graders--maybe I should try to write a simpler lesson in the morning.

This morning, I got to work just after 7, with over an hour until my first class at 8:15. However, cutting paper, making copies, printing worksheets, and other early morning tasks kept me busy until my first class showed up at the room to my door. It was my third grade class.

I began presenting the lesson as I had prepared, drawing on the chalkboard and asking the students questions. If the shadow is on the bottom left, where is the light coming from? Does it get darker or lighter when I add cross-hatching over the hatching? What can I do if I want it even darker than that?

The students seemed to understand the main concepts pretty well, so I explained their assignment and supplied paper, pens, pencils, and erasers. Then, 5 hands shot up in the air at once. "I don't get it!" became the resounding cry. I hurried from table to table, asking the students questions to guide them in the right direction. Should this part be darker or lighter? If your lightest part is right here, where would your shadow be?

After a few minutes, the questions began to die out as students worked silently. It seemed that most of them had grasped the concepts, but time would tell as I looked through their finished work at the end of the day.

And here I sit at the end of the day, grading and sorting artwork, and I find these pictures on the third grade shelf. Somehow my students are always smarter than I expect.