First day, term 4 did not start well at all. The internet was so slow, in fact the whole network was slow….. .and I, of all people had forgotten my password for the electronic roll marking software! But worse was to come, I found that both gmail and twitter had been blocked over the holidays.
Monday is a 6 lesson day for me and during lesson 6, I have year 8s who can be a challenging group at the best of times. However, as students love talking about what they do in the holidays, they were given a choice of writing a blog post using text, a wordle or a toondoo cartoon. Some of the girls had joined the blogging challenge. As they had missed three weeks due to the school holidays, I worked with them to ensure they at least got started.
I noticed three boys in the corner of the room, talking intently to each other, engrossed in one screen that bore no resemblance to what they had done in the holidays. Containing my rapidly welling- up anger, I approached them and started to reprimand them in an effort to get them back on task. It was then I noticed the folded up newspaper and the image of a property on the monitor. Upon quizzing them, I found out that one of the boys had brought in the newspaper and checked out the website of a real estate agent. This boy’s Dad worked on a big property as a farm manager but the property was now on the market. The three boys, none of whom were highly skilled in literacy, were busy reading the fairly complex text in both the newspaper and website, to each other, comparing figures given for the sale price, the property size and features , finding contradictions and discussing why this was so.
Further to this, they were asking questions about the property, its features, checking out the residences that it featured and teasing out the answers to the questions that they wanted answered from the lad who lived on the property. I quietly retreated and left them to their self directed learning – a far more effective lesson than the task I had asked them to complete.
Yet when the bell went, the boys had also completed the task that I had asked of them.