Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Dual Lesson

By Mark Heintz

Two days ago, I was out for EGLLT.  My substitute was an alumni of Elk Grove and the students did not behave well in my absence.  I was in the building, so when the alumni contacted me to tell me I had a rough first and second period, I came upstairs in hopes to settle the class down.  I was all fire and brimstone! I displayed my dismay!

Keep in mind, I love my first two periods.  They are the best group of freshmen I have taught.  They are generally well behaved, albeit on the loud side, but typically do everything I ask.  Out of fifty-five students, only four did not complete the activity I had in my sub plans.  

Despite my love, it is always embarrassing when an outsider has a negative experience with your class. So, the next day I wanted to teach the students a lesson about being respectful. In addition, the lesson was supposed to be about communism.  I thought I could combine the two.  To teach these lessons, I cut twenty-five small squares that had the number twenty on it. 

When the class started, I told the students that the substitute wrote five names down who were on task, respectful, and helpful.  I had the students guess which five student names were written down.  I gave those five students five of the twenty point strips.  I told the class that those five students earned their full percentage and the rest of the class would receive nothing. What happened next was amazing.

The five students were incredibly generous and empathetic. When the class started to argue that they all finished the work and more points should be given, the five students started to give their points away to their classmates, knowing they would receive a failing grade.  The students blew me away with their compassion.  They were hurt for being singled out because they saw how great most of their classmates were.   Moreover, the students were so compassionate they hurt their grade in hopes to be "fair" to their peers.  I cannot say how amazing they are!

Eventually, the discussion led to resource allocation and the need for governments.  Since the students basically gave every student equal share of the points it spoke the merits of equal allocation of resources (communism), but the problems with limited quantities of resources (how communism actually works).  The examples the students were using from the twenty point strips were heartfelt and personal.

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