Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Discussion and Period End

I break the silence by standing and saying it's time to discuss the book. Students' heads rise and some body movement begins. It looks as if everyone emerges from underneath water for a breath of fresh air. I call a name from the roster and the student sheepishly identifies himself. I move down a row to the center of the class. I tell everyone to pretend we are best friends, we're in our favorite coffee shop, and you can't wait to tell me about this exciting book. Everyone looks at me with a "yeah, right" look. I ask the first student an easy question. "Without looking at the book, tell me the title, the author, and the date first published"? He responds "Lord of the Flies, William Golding, 1954". I praise him. The next student I ask to tell me something about the author. "He lived in England" was the answer. Several more students raise their hand to add more about the author. Some blurt out answers without being recognized to speak. Some add that Mr. Golding had been a teacher and military pilot. I ask the next student about the setting of the story. The reply is "on an island". I ask "where is the island"? Nobody knows exactly, but everyone agrees it's a tropical island. "Who was there and how did they get there" I ask the next student? "There was an airplane crash and it was a group of young boys from a school" is the answer. "What are the names of the leading characters, I ask next"? Several students contribute names of the boys. Then they go on to tell me about the boys' electing one as their leader, about the pig, and about the boys getting hungry. My questions and their answers continue for about twenty minutes until I notice many looking at the clock. There is less than a minute of period remaining. I move to the front of the class and get everyone's attention and say to them in a declarative tone: "You have been a good class! Thank You! You have a bright future ahead of you!" As the students re-pack their book bags, some say "thank you, Mr. Mabe". The bell rings, the students begin leaving, I feel good, and the cycle starts over in five minutes.

Have a good day!


At 2/16/2006 6:48 PM, Anonymous joan said...

It might have been cool for you to rent the Lord of the Flies movie just to show them the "kill kill kill kill kill!" scene. I used to show excerpts of movies, for emphasis, when I was an English teacher - never the whole movie.
I like reading about your classes, Mike.

At 2/16/2006 11:44 PM, Anonymous Sherryl said...

Hey Mike, my friend Telika was at one of your chicken stews a couple of years ago. She told me yesterday that she was looking into substitute teaching to get a little experience in the field. I referred her to your blog to read about some of your experiences.
I enjoy your blogging!

At 2/17/2006 12:30 PM, Blogger mmabe said...

Joan: Your suggestion is a good one and the regular teacher may do just that. I'm sure the teacher gives a good interpretation of significant symbolic meanings in the text. As a sub, I don't know the lesson plan until I show up for the class and I was not familiar with this book.


At 2/17/2006 12:38 PM, Blogger mmabe said...


Thanks for your reply and comments about the blog. I hope your friend, Telika, gets insight from reading about my experiences. What I describe here is the absolute best.
Many other classes I approached the same way and the results are not nearly as good usually because of difficult behavior issues.

It's always good to hear from you!



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