The first part of today's lesson with upper primary (ages 8-11) was to watch this animation and describe (the diagonals of) the various quadrilaterals they could see. Each child worked individually with their own laptop, so that they could navigate their way around the video as they wished. Here are some of the written responses to the task (click to view gallery):
I had many interesting conversations as I moved 'between the desks'. A common question was whether a shape was (say) a parallelogram or a rhombus, when in fact it was both. Classifying quadrilaterals is not simple.
All of the children seemed to be attending closely to the video, navigating backwards and forwards carefully. However, some children completed the descriptive part of the task more fully than others. There was a significant number of children who spent most of their time responding to the following question, around two minutes into the video:
This generated a lot of discussion. The interest in finding the trapezium suggests to me a useful feature when designing activity like this in the future: include a prompt/puzzle that leads the learner to navigate / attend more closely to the video, in order to find something that is 'hidden'.
A number of my conversations were with children who thought they had found a trapezium, then checking whether the shape contained a pair of parallel lines, further consolidating previous work on (a) attributes of trapeziums, and (b) identifying pairs of parallel lines. This led to a debate about whether squares, rectangles, rhombuses and parallelograms were, in fact, trapeziums.
A final personal note. I once again felt anxiety during this lesson, particularly at the beginning. I think there is part of me that cares deeply about what I am presenting (both regarding the content, and regarding myself). There is a high degree of uncertainty. I hope that the lesson turns out to be a valuable experience for all the children.
I become concerned when some children don't get involved as I had hoped. There is often some apathy at the beginning when teaching this class, as the children try to work out the point of what I am asking them to do. This apathy, and hence my anxiety, alleviates as I work my way around the room, as the children start to understand and enjoy what is happening, and become more involved in the activity.
I am increasingly aware that I want to teach / speak / act / write in a way that effects people, that creates the possibility of transformation. This is a constant tension with my firm belief in John Mason's mantra: "I cannot change others; I can work at changing myself."