Thursday, October 6, 2016

When A Job Is Like Play

I try to focus through AP Lit and try to be as hands on in Competitive Writing, but my heart is racing to Socratic. Just a half hour more, just twenty minutes, just ten.

The tables are set up, the scenarios are printed, the students enter class with curiosity.

Today is the Cuban Missile Crisis simulation! Years ago, a colleague created this simulation for her eighth graders. Will it work for seniors? We have to take a chance. Maybe we will see the holes, the short circuits, a way to improve. We can improvise, raise the temperature of intellect. I'm more excited than unsure or nervous.

I review the Bay of Pigs with their help leaving off critical events and they easily complete my sentences. My confidence in them is gaining momentum like a bowling ball down Lombard Street.

Okay, this is going to work. They've listened. They've processed.

Shannon and I show the movie trailer for Thirteen Days. We pass out the deliberated character assignments. The most important was President John F Kennedy. I just feel in my heart it needs to be Anastasia. Set. Richard is Robert F. Kennedy. They should work well together. For the other characters, I have to trust my instincts and hope each student plays his or her part well.

The simulation begins after students have read their parts. I hold my breath. Mark, get set, go. They jump in and play their parts well. Curtis LeMay is pushing for a surgical strike. O'Donnel is protective. President Kennedy holds her presence. Bobby sits right by her side.

Only one student has a hard time with the debate. I pull him out on the sidelines to be a concerned citizen who is allowed to write notes and send them to the president. The student decides to be a Russian and uses the translation app on his phone for a truly authentic experience. He passes the note to the president who reads them with ease.

We all forgot! Our President Kennedy, Anastasia, reads and speaks Russian! A serendipitous moment.

Students continue to argue their causes with passion. I had yet to realize how deep their thinking skills were. It's a teaching moment of pure pleasure. When the second class recreates the Cuban Missile Crisis, I'm happier still--I wouldn't have thought they could have surpassed the first class, but they did in their eloquence and reason.

I stand back and enjoy.