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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

"What changed?"

I got a round table...

Because I haven't messed with my room enough this year.

Jeez, I think I'm obsessed.

The thing is, I really needed a round table.

My idea for November is small group based.

Everyone is NaNoWriMo-ing four days a week.

Why four days a week?

Because we still have to conquer Of Mice and Men this semester.

I tried reading it starting after Thanksgiving last year.

It was a pretty epic disaster.

Two and a half weeks is just not enough to introduce, read, and analyze the book.

At least, not with my freshmen.

And not in a way that makes it worth doing.

The book as too much to offer to, pardon my French, half-ass it that way.

So, the goal is to start now.

Each day, one small group will work together to begin the novel.

They will rotate through in a set pattern.

The first day, as an introduction, they will complete a collaborate webquest.

After that, they will "read" the novel by following along with the audio.

I picked up a couple of cheap audio splitters for this.

A single audio CD of the novel and a single laptop with a CD player can host up to five students.

As they explore the text, they will complete collaborative activities and questions.

If I can get them through the introduction and chapter one this month, I will count that as a win.

But to make it work, I needed a round table.

There is nothing like a small, round table to force a group into intimacy.

It feels much more casual and collaborative.

The best part?

I didn't have to buy it.

I went down to the basement and asked.

The custodial staff was kind enough to invite me to explore the storage area.

Let me take a moment to say how awesome that is.

First off, they have a huge space down there and they have worked really hard to clear it out and clean it up.

Plus, they have no obligation to let me wander around in there.

And certainly, the young man who came with me, didn't have to do that.

He didn't have to show me the round tables.

Or help me figure out which one was in the best shape.

Or bring it up to my room for me.

Or, since then, replace my squeaky extra office chair with one that is blessedly silent.

But all of that happened.

I smiled for hours after I found that table.

It is a little small, just right for four people.

It is a little low, but not enough to bother.

The edge was all raggedy, but some colorful patterned duct tape fixed that.

There was great joy for me in watching my students enter my room, pause, flabbergasted by the change.

"Where'd the desks go?"

"What happened?"

"Ms. Hirsch, why you keep changing things?"

And my personal favorite:

"It feels different in here. What changed?"

Oh dear.

Thankfully, my students gently deride these observational fails so I don't have to.

I'm not sure if I could avoid hurting someone's feelings.

Anyway. The point is, I got a round table.

It is great fun.

Everything about it, so far, has been a good thing.

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