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Time to do something about those walls…

September 9, 2010

I’m in a new classroom this year, and the walls are totally bare. I hate it, but try as I might, I can never find the time to decorate the room like I want it. But then I thought—hey, maybe the students will want to do this. So I sent the following email:

In keeping with our conversation about growth mindset, I’d really like to make sure that we look for ways to keep growing the growth mindset. One of the things that came up in our conversations is that fun and interest play a big role in being growth oriented. So with that, I’m officially announcing that my backwork is meant to be fun. It’s a place you can come even when you think you understand most of physics and don’t really have any questions, but want to learn more.

What might we do in “Fun Backwork” some ideas:

  • I am happy to talk with you about developing a deep interest that will lead to changing the world.
  • I’ve secured permission to paint quotes in my classroom. I’ve got a lot of awesome quotes, all I need is some students with an eye for design who might want to help me.
  • We could paint the classroom during backwork
  • We can make stuff. I’ve already ordered some blinkies, which will teach us how to solder.
  • We can watch cool science stuff, like the episodes of Bad Universe and Mythbusters as they come out.
  • We can do whatever you want, so long as:
    • It’s fun
    • It leads to you exploring some intellectual or artistic idea more deeply.

Interested in any of these things? Got ideas of your own? Write me back.

-Mr. Burk

ps. Don’t worry, I’m still happy to answer any “normal” questions you might have about solving a homework problem, or completing a lab, but I think if you also try some of our fun backwork, you’ll see everything else is just a bit easier.

So today, about half a dozen girls stayed in my backwork to talk about how to decorate the classroom. I had them look through a set of quotes I’ve been collecting for the past few years. And then some ideas for posters I’ve pulled from the internet. They were super-psyched, and now I”ve got to get a projector and 10 ft ladder so we can project the quotes on the wall for tracing.

I hope this happens….

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 10, 2010 1:57 am

    (1) This is awesome. I’ve also read somewhere that students should decorate the room, or at least the teacher should decorate it with student work. I was thinking of doing something similar with the drop ceiling tiles. I have little wall space in the classroom. However, the wall in the hallway between my room and the next is bare–just painted sheetrock. I don’t know if my admins would go for a science mural on the wall.

    (2) Pardon my ignorance, but what is “backwork?”

  2. September 10, 2010 2:03 am

    CEILING TILES! OMG—it’s like you just reminded me I live in a 3d world. And I can always filp ’em when we want the place to seem proper.

    Backwork is the last period of the day at my school. It’s kinda like an open study hall, where the time is sacrosanct. Teachers are in their rooms, and students come for extra help, but most students just use the time to chill with friends—until the day before the test, that is.

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