发布时间:2014-03-31 08:09:39责任编辑:管理员点击次数:1864


    Beyond barriers: Circles and squares

    BC教师 Faustus Salvador 

    When I was five years old and in kindergarten class, I managed to wedge the square peg in the round hole of a pegboard.


    You probably know the objective of the game: in as short amount of time as possible, place different shaped pegs into their appropriate spaces on the pegboard. Not the most stringent of tasks, I agree. And yet, in the period between first recess and orange juice time, I had faced the bitter reality that all that was left was a square peg and a round hole.


    It took hours –– or, more probably, days – of continuous twisting to get that peg to fit.


    You did it wrong,” the kindergarten teacher told me afterwards. “And you broke the game, too.”


    I watched as she strained to remove the peg from the board. “I don’t think it wants to come out,” I said.


    Not anymore it won’t,” she snapped.


    Of course, I didn’t think that the square peg might have belonged to a different pegboard game and had gotten mixed into my set. Those are not the thoughts of a kindergarten-trained mind. But the activity did teach me about perseverance.


    Fast-forward to my first class as a teacher of English literature to Chinese students in an offshore school. It didn’t take long to figure out that I was the square peg in this setting. After seventy-five minutes, a collection of reticent writing samples, and a somewhat awkward conversation with one student about Lady Gaga’s meat dress, the reality of my situation became obvious: whatever I had gleaned from my B.Ed. program would be put to the test here.

    时光快进到我在一所海外学校教书的时候,澳门永利:那是我第一次教中国学生英国文学。75分钟的课堂,几个循规蹈矩的写作范例,一段和学生讨论Lady Gaga肉片装的尴尬谈话,我的处境显而易见:我师范本科教育的成果在这里即将得到检验。

    It’s a trial by fire,” a veteran teacher explained to us new arrivals. “The students will surprise you. And just when you think you understand them – poof! – they show you something else.”


       Is the language barrier the obstacle?” someone asked.


    No,” replied the veteran. “It runs deeper than that.”


    That was years ago. He was right, though. It’s more than just words. You notice it in the student desk arrangement (always in pairs), the easy camaraderie in the hallways, the genuine euphoria outside at lunch time. The students are connected here in ways that seemed alien to me at first.


    I’ve added to my arsenal of strategies since then. Most of my students come into the English classroom with some notion of character, plot, setting. They also bring with them behavioural baggage from other classes and teachers. (The star student of one math class, for instance, becomes the pesky chatterbox of her English class.) .


    But everything seems to come back to squares and circles for me. I’ve been using discussion circles in my classes for years now. There are different names for these sorts of groupings: literature circles, book clubs, discussion groups, student-centered cooperative learning. I prefer think-tank. I want my students to start thinking of themselves as experts – separate but connected – if only for this story or that article or those poems.


    The classroom seating arrangement is set up so that when I ask everyone to “transform”, a quick ninety-degree turn of each desk has students face-to-face with their own group. Now they’re not one of many. Nor are they one of the same. They’re individual and collective at the same time – a vital part of a machine that functions better because they have each other.


    The groups look randomly assigned, but that’s my deception. Each circle contains a set of roles with exotic names – a microcosm, actually, representing Gardener’s Multiple Intelligence Theory. For the language arts, there are roles for a discussion director, a word watcher, a summarizer, an illustrator, an illuminator, a connector. For mathematics, a circle is composed of a model maker, a situation summarizer, a vocabulary master, an idea generator, a computation whiz, a connector, and a path finder.


    Students choose their own roles at the start of a discussion circle. Once chosen, they cannot play that role again until everyone has had a turn at it in the weeks to come. Sometimes the circles come together to process and analyse a text or situation. At other times, they are there to produce instead – a report presentation, a graphic novella, a movie trailer for a story they’re read, a booklet of interrelated math problems. The works are epic. They are often as surprised as I am with their productions.

    分组讨论前,每个学生会选择自己的角色。一旦选择了某个角色,他们便不能再次充当那个角色, 直到所有的人都轮流充当过每个角色。有时,组员聚到一起分析一篇文章或一个场景。有时,他们会有成果产出,如报告展示,生动的短篇小说,他们阅读的小说的电影预告片,或者是一系列相关数学难题的小册子。

    Although it appears to be group work, students are assessed individually on their written work (based on daily “missions”) and their ability to discuss what they have discovered on their own.

    虽然是小组活动 ,但是我会根据学生的书面完成情况(每日任务)以及就自我发现的信息、进行探讨的能力给学生们评分。

    The best part happens at the end of a long discussion circle: students face their own trials by fire in a “Socratic Seminar” of like-roles debating a given topic in an arena surrounded by their peers. With circles applauding and encouraging the arguments made by their teammates, it’s thrilling stuff (to a teacher anyway).


    By the end of the semester, the transformation is complete. Students now know what it’s like to be a leader and a follower, an artist and a lexicographer, a realist and a visionary. The students are still themselves, and yet they’re also something more. More than just English or math.


    The square pegs are still square, you see, but in the circular spaces, they’ve found they can manage those, too


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