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wakeywakey
 
 
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My No Fun Class
Old 03-27-2019, 01:09 PM
 
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This is my first year being a full time teacher. I teach physics. No matter what I do, I have one class that refuses to have fun... or speak. No matter how engaged or thrilled the other sections are this one section refuses to crack a smile. This class is a regular level class, the same as my other sections.

We made water bottle rockets and shot them off in the practice field. The entire time they sat in the bleachers or grass and picked grass. This was a group project and the class days they had to work on their rockets involved them just staring at each other with only a few words shared between them. Some of the groups made separate rockets at home and did nothing in class.

I have tried fun individual activities and that got about the same results. I had the students build a ramp to launch a ping pong ball a set distance. They worked at their lab benches in complete silence. On testing day, not a single student seemed excited when their ping pong ball made it in the cup or even frustrated when they missed.

It is honestly so hard to lecture in that class as well. Try to pull feedback or asking questions gets you blank stares. If I ever call on one of them they just get mad and whisper the answer. It feels like I am teaching to mannequins.

This led me to believe it was issues with communicating or maybe none of them are competitive. So I had them do a virtual lab instead of a physical lab. This upset the other classes but I have to teach the same lesson for all of them because of school policy. The virtual lab however was no more successful. Despite the fun animations and game-like nature of the lab it did not spark a smile on any of their faces.

At the advice of a colleague, I made them do a class presentation on a famous physicist. This was supposed to force them to talk. It was a short 3-5 minute presentation done in groups of threes. This resulted in class period of them presenting slides while saying a word or two. The longest presentation was 2 minutes.

The current lab we are working on is building large paper roller coasters. This is a lab I did in school and loved. My over sections are going crazy over the project. Especially because there is prizes for the coolest coasters. My "no fun class" however has decided this is time to sit silently and stare at me. When I walk around and ask them what they are doing? If I get an answer it was "nothing".

I am honestly over my head. I just don't know what to do. They do well on tests and busy work but them not doing labs is hurting them. Any advice?


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What grade
Old 03-28-2019, 10:43 AM
 
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Is this high school or college? I get college kids not talking, but high school no. Seriously college after a few classes together should be talking and having fun. I would love to be in your class! That sounds like a blast! I teach 4th grade so I have the opposite problem, way too much enthusiasm. There are days that I think Iím going to die from my special little blurt monsters! We talk about blurting our and how it hurts everyone and they have great things to add as to why we shouldnít blurt, but they just canít stop! Come teach elementary and you will not mind your silent class...at least for a while.
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Old 03-28-2019, 09:41 PM
 
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...We made water bottle rockets and shot them off in the practice field. The entire time they sat in the bleachers or grass and picked grass. This was a group project and the class days they had to work on their rockets involved them just staring at each other with only a few words shared between them. Some of the groups made separate rockets at home and did nothing in class. ...


I was taught when organizing groups there are two objectives: (1) social (2) academic. If either of these are done quick and sloppy that's where your problems will occur. Before I introduce a project I, first, teach "group skills". I never assume students know how to share, take turns, disagree/agree, facilitate, record or any other social skills. Each one of the individual roles of each student within the group is taught like a full lesson - from input and checking for understanding to modeling to guided practice to closure. Then groups are given a "practice problem" to solve and are scored on their ability to use interpersonal skills as taught. This usually takes a whole period. Without any attention to social skills you are likely to get whatever students feel like giving you. This is, also, why some students don't participate or show any interest. They have learned from experience why try? They take the tact that follows the saying, "Better to shut my mouth and let them think I'm stupid than to open it and remove any doubt".
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Old 03-29-2019, 10:29 AM
 
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Those kind of classes are so frustrating! Our school had a class like that a few years ago and they were the same no matter which teacher or subject they had. They woke up a little when they buddied up with younger kids.

I guess I'd let them do everything by themselves and play classical music in the background.
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Old 03-30-2019, 06:22 AM
 
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Iíve had classes like this, but I donít worry about it. Itís weird for middle school, but it does happen. I always feel like Iím in the twilight zone.

I was always a quiet kid, but I loved school. People still often think Iím not having a good time because Iím not smiling, laughing, or talking. Itís just not so. In a whole class full of people like me, it would have been a little dry, but the work would have gotten done.


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