Thursday, March 20, 2008

Silence in the classroom

I wrapped up a short week on Wednesday with MLA documentation. My attendance has almost never been higher as we went over the mechanics of a works cited page and in-text documentation.

This group of students don't ask questions. It's disconcerting at best since they just sit back and soak up the information without revealing any sign whether the information gets jumbled in their heads or whether I'm explaining everything thoroughly enough. After explaining a concept, I'll ask if there are any questions and sit back to regard the class with mild speculation as their eyes trail from one end of the tile floor to another. Some will glance up at me with a scowl. They give me no feedback.

So, I've gotten in the habit of taking feedback from them in the form of worksheets, group activities and the like.On Wednesday, I had them read a page from "The Areas of My Expertise" by John Hodgman. If you pick it up and read a few paragraphs, you will see why I like it so much. I had the students cite different statements from the text and a wonderful thing happened at 1:42. The students started asking questions about in-text citation. Not only that! The students were taking notes about it! We were actually holding a conversation about MLA citation in the classroom. I would tell them how to cite something and a hand would pop up. "Then, how do we..." "In that case, you cite it like this..." Another hand would pop up. "Can we cite it like this?" "No, don't be an idiot. Cite it like this." Okay, I didn't really say that last one. I was just too happy to have my class asking me questions in class about a concept... MLA citation no-less!

The eight minutes just flew by, and before I knew it the class was over. I wanted to shout to them to stay and ask more questions. "I'm a bastion of knowledge, kids! bust me open and soak up the knowledge with a sponge!" But, I did not. They had alcohol to imbibe and dignity to lose. I settled for merely stating how happy I was that they were asking questions.


smm933 said...

Bastion of knowledge?

AMedievalMind said...

When I can see that the students are not speaking, I tend to let them get me off track on something that they find interesting or that I find interesting. That usually generates some kind of discussion that I can usually tie back the original discussion. But if that does not work, then I have two prompts: Hey, I live by myself with a cat. I can sit in silence for hours if need be or I will cover my mouth and say very loudly and very disdainfully, this is the part where you talk!!