“Obliviate”

Well, our historical fiction and nonfiction book clubs are up and running.  Any given day there are things that excite me, amaze me, and shock me when it comes to my students, their reading lives, and their learning.  Today, I was shocked.

I had a sub yesterday so Megan bore the brunt of set up of the book clubs.  We thought for ease of sub plans (and sanity), our mini-lesson portion of the class would be activating student’s prior knowledge through the use of the trusty old K-W-L chart.  Students would talk through with their book clubs the things they knew about the time period of their books and things they’re hoping to learn.  This would be followed by independent reading and the reading response section of class would be spent discussing things learned.  Sounds easy, right? 

I’ve been teaching for 11 years.  All 11 years have been spent with 7th graders (with a few random years of 8th graders thrown in for good measure).  I COMPLETELY understand that middle school students tend to not remember things they were taught – like it’s erased from their memory with a wave of the wand and the “obliviate” charm.  However, when Megan told me that the vast majority of our students “claimed” they did not know what a K-W-L chart was and that they had seen nothing like it before, I was shocked.  Like, knock me on my hinder kind of shocked.  {insert sigh here}

Like I said, I understand the memory of a middle school student, so what they do and do not remember from past years doesn’t ruffle my feathers too much.  The K-W-L chart is just one of a few examples from this school year, and there’s part of me that is starting to wonder… are we focusing too intently on the “fun” and the “hands on” activities that we’ve forgotten about the foundations?  So, our mission (and we choose to accept it), is to be cognizant of the foundations, help our students activate as much prior (and future) knowledge as possible, and still make it “fun.”  🙂  Happy Tuesday!