Iron Teacher

So there’s been good conversation lately recently about the lack of good lesson plans on the Internet. I think that’s true. I’m not sure this game will bring us much closer to the end game but it has the potential to produce some good content1. Hopefully it’ll be fun and catch on2.

Here’s the idea Milobo and I came up with a few days ago. It’s Michelle’s better twist on the Pimp My Lesson Plan idea that’s been nagging at me for a while3. Instead of Pimp My Ride, the inspiration is a lesson plan contest based on Iron Chef.

Basic Rules

  • Two teams of educators (more if others are game) will battle4 to develop a unit or lesson plan to meet the requirements of a selected teacher.
  • Each team will share their lesson along with the process they used to brainstorm and develop the idea.
  • A panel of judges, including the teacher who issued the challenge, will rate the lesson on Originality, Student Appeal, and Ability to Meet Outcome.

Here’s the current lesson request. It’s due by midnight- Sunday, April 26th. Post the content to your blog and link back in the comments5.

The Audience: 2 classes of 10th grade General Level Literature students.

The Secret Ingredient:
The novel “A Separate Peace”

The Challenge (as defined by the teacher):
Students are beginning a book discussion of the novel “A Separate Peace.” These particular students struggle to demonstrate understanding of content through writing, but have recently become more motivated to read and respond to literature as their teacher has incorporated audio books and modern literature into the curriculum.

The teacher shares that the class performs better when asked to discuss personal experiences and would like to incorporate the book themes of envy/conformity into the book discussions. These students in particular are not easily motivated to participate in class activities. Their teacher is looking for an original and fun way to have the students discuss and share while demonstrating understanding in a way that goes beyond writing an essay or taking a multiple choice test.

Two weeks have been dedicated to class reading and discussion of the book.


1 If nothing else it’ll give me a chance to get back into what I really like to do and do it in a way that might actually help some people.

2 Probably not, given what teachers have to do but you never know.

3 Apparently someone’s already used the title although, this looks so hideous I can still claim the idea in good conscience.

4 Good, fun competition, not bloodsport.

5 I’ll be getting a decent website built to tie things together as soon as I get finished with this lesson.

Comments on this post

  1. Dale Basler said on April 10, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    Check this out:
    http://www.exploratorium.edu/iron_science/

  2. Tom said on April 10, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    And there is nothing new under the sun (Simpsons did it). . .

    Do we get bonus points for thinking it was new or do we lose points?

    Good to see that though. It’s a good idea.

    Thanks.

  3. Todd said on April 10, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    To me, this is too broad: too much time, not specific enough of a demand. To write plans for two weeks worth of lessons on the novel given only a narrative of the make up of the class, I feel like there’s too many ways to go and I have no idea what the teacher is looking for. I dig the idea and did the first time I heard about it (there’s a comment from me on some blog somewhere saying, “Great idea!”). I’d love to be in on this, but this is too much freedom, not enough limitations, not enough specificity. A shorter time frame would help as would a more detailed explanation of what is desired. But maybe I’m the only one who feels that way.

    Seriously, I can barely plan two weeks for my own class (and typically change the plan by day two).

    Socratic seminars, debates, student-created tests, content review games, character posters, so many ways I could go.

  4. Tom said on April 11, 2009 at 5:59 am

    Todd,

    I think you’re right. We’re still trying to figure out how this ought to work and I think increased specificity will make things easier.

    This is what a teacher asked for help with. Let me talk to Michelle and see if we can’t narrow things down some. One of those times when increased limitations might lead to greater creativity.

    I appreciate your input and if you’re not a participant I was hoping you might be a judge.

    Tom

  5. Michelle Bourgeois said on April 11, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Todd and Tom,

    Good points. I agree that there’s not enough specificity to design a lesson plan, but I’m thinking that maybe I need to reword the rules that are posted for the challenge rather than reword the challenge given.

    Instead of writing a long comment here, I posted my thoughts on my blog. See what you think.

  6. Dale Basler said on April 11, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    Lot’s of people get bonus points for thinking of an idea first but the real points come from making the idea come to life.

    I shared the Iron Science Teacher so you can build upon what they did.

  7. Todd said on April 11, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Tom, I’m down for however I can fit into this. I don’t teach this novel, but as we define things a bit more I might have some ideas. I could also see myself weighing in on the judging side.

    I posted on Michelle‘s blog, but the gist is that this sounds like a skill-based request, not one about a specific text. This isn’t a quest for resources about A Separate Peace; it’s a quest for ways to engage students. Shouldn’t that be what we focus on and leave the title of the text completely out of this particular conversation? Other requests will very likely need to be centered around the text involved (and I’m really interested in those), but not this one.

  8. Todd said on April 11, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    The Secret Ingredient becomes the skill students should demonstrate (TSWBAT) instead of the text used. The title of the text used could go into the Audience statement. Teachers state whether or not their plan addresses the Ingredient and/or the text?

  9. A. Mercer said on April 11, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    I will eagerly await the response. First, I LOVE that you didn’t say using technology, you just wanted more engagement. I think in elementary the over-reliance on text books by teachers is a serious problem and it’s worse in younger/newer teachers. I really don’t give a flying feather if integrate tech, what I would like to see is the ability to craft a lesson or a unit without a text. The fact that many are not learning that craft is disturbing to me. Thanks for the soapbox!

  10. Dan Meyer said on April 12, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    I’m interested to see where this will go, for reasons which oughtta be obvious.

  11. Francie Snyder said on April 27, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    I posted this on Milobo’s Musing, but forgot to post it here http://digiduchess.blogspot.com/. Thanks for allowing me to play. Loved the Facebook idea!

  12. Katie Morrow said on April 30, 2009 at 8:50 am

    It’s fun to be one of the “firsts” when we don’t really know the rules yet. After further defining this concept I can see how the experience will even be better!

    http://teach42morrow.blogspot.com/2009/04/iron-teacher-separate-peace.html

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