Overall, the teaching and discussion experience at Myers Park Elementary went a lot better than I anticipated. I was a little nervous at first, since I was afraid that the students would be out of control, or completely quiet during the discussions, which would have made it painfully awkward. I thought back to my time in fifth grade and remember how much I disliked it…so, as silly as it sounds, I found myself pretty anxious when walking into the classroom.
However, when we walked in the room, I was surprised how energetic and excited the students were. I am also really happy that Nick was there to introduce everyone and the clips—I can tell that he has been working with students a lot, and it was really helpful to have someone to introduce the clips and keep the students on track. During the showing of the film clips, I saw many students writing down things that they noticed. I was glad to see this kind of engagement and effort. (Because I had bad experiences in elementary and middle school, I was expecting this to be a somewhat similar environment.)
When a number of us met on Sunday night to discuss the project, I am glad that we ended up coming up with a worksheet. Though it was nothing intensive, it was good to have open-ended questions to use to guide the discussion. In my group, I had one kid who appeared to have severe ADHD…so it helped a lot to have exact questions to go back to reel him in when he started to get off topic. These broad questions also helped encourage the students to think critically. I was surprised at how willing they were to elaborate on their answers, as I had been a little afraid that they would simply answer “Yes,” or “No,” and therefore leave no potential for discussion. For example, when asked whether it was realistic for a car to make it across magma from an erupting volcano, one student readily replied, “No, of course not. It’s just a movie, and not everything they show in movies is true; the gas in the car would have definitely exploded because of how hot it was.” Another agreed, also pointing out the fact that the tires would have all melted and the people in the car would have died due to the heat. Their willingness to participate made it a lot more fun. At times when students answered but were hesitant in giving an explanation, we encouraged them to explain their thought process, regardless of whether it was right or wrong. At times they were just a little self-conscious because they were afraid that their answer would be wrong, but as we continued discussing and asking questions, they became much more comfortable describing the thoughts and ideas that led them to a particular conclusion.
I am really happy that we decided to do this project as a class. I know that other Queens classes have also worked with the elementary students, but think that more Queens classes should get involved, especially since it is so close by and easily accessible.