What they told me

I had this great lesson today.  We went outside and measured out ten meters on the asphalt and then found the points where the crust would be, the mantle, the outer core, and the inner core.  First, we had to work out the percentage for each and then convert that percentage over to our 10m model.  The math was challenging, they were engaged and it was great to work with sidewalk chalk!

Afterwards, we climbed to the roof and took a birds eye view of our handy work.  It was beautiful.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="One of those days...."][/caption]

Unfortunately, none of it is true.  It was what I had imagined in my head would happen.  Here is what really happened.

About 20 minutes prior to Japanese class finishing, a big black cloud arrived over the school.  I knew that the outside sidewalk chalk would not be a good idea.  I thought about doing it in the hallway, but the grade 3.4 class had done something similar earlier in the year, and I decided to do something different.  We recently just got our hands on a set of iPads, so I thought, lets try that.  Instead of comparing to the measuring tape, we would compare the layers of the earth to our own bodies, and find out where the crust would be, the mantle end, and so on.  Then, we could take a picture with the iPad, and draw the layers right on top of the picture!

Scrambling, I got the iPads signed out, tried to download the necessary app (but the layers of security on them slowed me down), and then got my Keynote page ready to reflect the new changes.  Just as they came in, I got it done.  We started on time.

Well, the math part of the problem didn't really cause any problems.  They got the idea, needed some help from each other walking through the conversations from Earth to Me, I had to step in a couple of time and correct some errors that had gotten out of control and spread through the group (when measuring the layers on your body, make sure to start each layer from where the last one left off), but for the most part, they did well.  It would have been easier with the ten meter tape, since dividing into ten is a lot easier than dividing into 154cm.  But, they have calculators for that!

Then, the iPads struck.  We took the pictures, loaded them into app, drew our pictures on top of them, and then nothing worked.  It was hard to write on the pictures, the calibration was off.  I couldn't email them.  I couldn't save them.  I couldn't export them.  Several of them got deleted, and redone, and then deleted again.  A couple more got flipped around so that the picture we drew was at a different orientation to the picture we took!  It took us over 45 minutes to do the part of the lesson that should have been the quickest.  The kids did their best to stick with it and try and solve all the problems that came up, but they just got the iPads yesterday, so they don't know much.  It was frustrating for all of us.  In the end, we got it to work, but it was bittersweet.  We were tired and we wanted to go home.  We knew it was not our best.

The problems rest completely at my feet.  I took a risk.  I tried something that I thought would be fun, interesting and different.  It would have been, had I been more prepared.  I rushed it together and the results showed.  I sat the kids down before the day ended and apologized that today was not a smooth day, and that everything seemed to go wrong.  I told them it was my fault because I was not prepared.

They told me not to worry

They told me that sometimes things don't go the way you plan

They told me that sometimes you have to go with the flow

They told me that you learn more from mistakes than success

They said that it was fun trying to figure it out together

They said we will do better next time


I agree.



  1. Hi Craig
    I wish you worked at my school. Your passion, creativity and understanding of learning (and kids!) comes through in everything you write.
    I love the initial plan for the lesson. I love that you took a risk and tried something else at the last minute when you saw the weather wouldn't hold out. I love your second plan too.
    I can definitely identify with the tech not working. We spent a whole year with a problematic wireless system, never sure from one day to the next if we'd have to resort to Plan B (or C or D). Your apology to the kids speaks volumes about your sensitivity to their feelings... and their responses show that your modelling pays off. What a fabulous atmosphere in which to learn and grow together.

  2. Tasha Cowdy15.5.12

    I agree with Edna's comment! Great post. Speaks volumes about you as a teacher and a learner. And the attitude is clearly being passed down to your students.

  3. Marina Gijzen15.5.12

    Love this post! It's happened to us all. Your positive attitude, willingness to try and your admission to your students of falling below your own expectations makes it a success. Thanks for writing about it.

  4. 5a3dragonslair19.5.12

    Good reminder. I just hope those lessons are not the ones where I am being observed. :).

    Perfect lesson on living and learning...

    Janet | expateducator.com

  5. Sonya ter Borg20.5.12

    Great post. I agree with Edna, Marina and Tasha but not so much with the Dragonslair. Your initial plan was thwarted by weather. You rallied to overcome this, not wanting to pass up the experience or duplicate a previous experience. You utilized technology, required collaboration and problem solving of your students, showed initiative, willingness to try something new, flexibility and a host of skills in order to accomplish (or head toward accomplishing!) your objective. You went into it with great intentions for it to be a hands-on, real-world understanding of a relatively abstract set of data and whilst it wasn't perfect, your concluding wrap up with the kids, in my opinion, was 1000 times more valuable than had the weather been perfect and everything had gone to plan. To me, this is the type of lesson that SHOULD be observed. This is the type of lesson write-up that should be shared with parents = not the perfect scenario but how you adapted to the challenges you faced and the learning that occurred as a result. Kudos to you and thanks for sharing!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Flotsam and exploring imaginative questions through literacy

George Polya and Mathematical Problem Solving

The Shape of a Unit.