Every year, IBM holds a week-long camp for 7th and 8th grade girls,
encouraging them to go into science and technology. Yesterday, I was
the instructor for the module “Women in Science”. That was tough!
I was terrified. I didn’t feel prepared at all, having forgotten to
put together colored slips of paper for the kids to write on. Well,
I’d remembered the need for it, but not the actual colors. Not only
was I worrying about how to do that, but the other volunteer briefed
me on how challenging this group was and how little their tolerance
for boredom could be.
In those frantic few minutes before the kids came through the door, I
pulled myself together and came up with Plan B. Jennifer Schachter was
awesome. She kept me focused by reminding me of the things we’d
thought of doing, and that helped everything click into place. By the
time the kids came in, I felt confident enough to fake the rest.
One of the things you learn as a teacher, after all, is to pretend
that Plan B was the real plan all along. ;)
After a brief introduction, I gave the kids two minutes to read and
write all they could about Hedy Lamarr. Then we went around the
groups, each group naming a single fact about Hedy Lamarr. If they
were the only group to write down that fact, they got five points. If
they shared it with another group, each group earned three points. If
more than two groups had that fact, each group earned one point. I
also got them to look for information on Birute Galdikas and Ada
After the event, the other facilitators said they were surprised to
find the kids so quiet and so engaged in a task. Whew!
I think one of the reasons why it worked was that the activity was
structured so that everyone could be a hero, but no one could lose.
That is, what the kids learned and wrote down could directly
contribute to the team getting a point, but if the team got no points,
it wasn’t the fault of anyone in particular.
Anyway, that was tons of fun. Scary, but fun. =)
On Technorati: teaching
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