Week 3 – Everything is awesome, and/or a complete disaster

So I had an experience this week and I wonder if any of you (especially you, rotary people) have had something similar.

I gave a lesson near the beginning of the week on the personal nature of composition, and the way in which many artists will use music as a way of talking about things that are important to them. Our activity for the lesson was to interpret and then compare the lyrics of two different autobiographical songs by different artists. Our examples were Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel, and Dear John by Styx.

I deliberately chose songs that the students were less likely to be familiar with, so that they would have to work from scratch when deciding what they thought the songs were about, rather than working from their preconceptions. The main point behind the analysis was that one song (Solsbury Hill) has a very implicit meaning, while the other (Dear John) is very explicit.

Anyway, the first grade 8 group I did this with loved it. Hands were up, everyone had an opinion, there were lots of creative interpretations – some students even started to sing along when we listened to the songs a second time, which I hadn’t asked them to do. It was great.

So great, in fact, that my AT was all, “That was cool, you should do it again with (other grade 8 group). They’ll like it.”

So I did. And it was….terrible.

Dead silence. No opinions. I had to prompt through every part of the analysis. I mean, no one was goofing off, everybody listened, but response? Nada.

At the time I had no plan B, so I just sort of plodded on through and vowed (secretly) to do better next time.

Has this happened to you? What did you do? What happens when you’re giving what you think is an awesome lesson, and halfway through, you realize it’s bombing? A disaster. A masterpiece of disaster. Disasterpiece.

I’m going to go work on a plan B.

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One thought on “Week 3 – Everything is awesome, and/or a complete disaster

  1. marysica says:

    Oh yes, this has definitely happened to me. It’s funny to think about how different groups of students can be. For me, I usually have an idea of where I want to conversation to go so if it doesn’t naturally start heading in that direction I’ll spoon feed the class a little bit. I don’t like doing it, but it works. It’s a little harder with rotary classes but I often also call on different people to answer if no one is raising their hands. Most of the time, they’ll have some sort of opinion that they just don’t feel like sharing until they’re called on, or they’ll get an admonishment to pay more attention if they admit they don’t know what’s going on. However, if they pass, they pass. The other day in class, my activity bombed and the students rushed through it a lot faster than I thought they would, so I scrambled and thought up another quick activity that they’d be able to do. I find that usually when I’m planning my lessons, there’s a lot that doesn’t make it into the final lesson, so although nerve-wracking, it’s not a huge stretch to come up with a quick time filler. Hope you have better luck next time!

    – Maryse

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