A new perspective when students teach class | Mentoring in the Middle

A new perspective when students teach class

when students teach your class, mentoring in the middle
My students were entering a new unit in Social Studies on the first Americans in North America, and I wanted to try something different for them.  I decided to group them in groups with some input from them.  You can read about I create collaborative groups here.  
Each group was tasked to teach a chapter from our Social Studies book (The History of Us by Joy Hakim) which studies First Americans by their location in the United States.)  We went to the library for added research and information.

Groups had to:
    totem pole made from clay by 6th grade students, mentoring in the middle
  • Create a graphic organizer for the chapter 
  • Give students time to read the chapter and work with a partner to complete the graphic organizer
  • Give a presentation on one of the tribes in the region (there was some important "don't read from the PowerPoint or Adobe slide" instruction!)
  • Create a hands-on activity for students to enjoy
  • Create a quiz 
I have to admit, in my typical style, I jumped into the deep end of the pool with this, and for a few days, I wondered what I'd gotten myself into.

And then, as students started to understand their peoples and what they were to do, they rose to the occasion.  There were wonderful presentations and movies, and for the most part, they helped us understand their people better. 

a mask like ones made by Inuits long ago, mentoring in the middlevases made from clay like those of Pueblo Indians, mentoring in the middle

the base of an igloo, mentoring in the middle
Students played First American games, learned the challenge of building igloos that stay standing, created totem poles,  homes and pottery.

mentoring in the middle, an igloo made by a student from clayMy students discovered it was hard to be a teacher!  There's a valuable lesson in that.  On the other hand, a few thought it might be interesting to be a teacher.

We still have a few chapters to read after Christmas break, but I recommend this - if you're willing to give up control of your classroom for a while - as a great tool for student (and teacher) learning!

It requires monitoring the quality of the work they do, but if you have clear expectations for them, you may be surprised at how much learning takes place!

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