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New Teachers Making a Map From Memory

July 14, 2011

In our New Teacher 101 workshop as part of the Center for Teaching’s Summer Institute, Brandi Sabb, one of the co-facilitators, did an activity today that worked really well.

She gave teachers very simple instructions as follows:

  • construct a 2-D map of the world from memory that includes the seven continents.
  • work individually, no sharing or discussing your work with others in the class
  • white paper can serve as your background and you can tap multiple sheets together to increase the size of your platform
  • choose different pieces of colored construction paper
  • you can draw or sketch your continents on the colored paper
  • you have to rip out the shapes of the continents, no scissors
  • you have glue sticks to attach your continent shapes to the paper

There was a variety of conversation about the project.  It varied from…

  • could you explain that again?
  • this is too hard.
  • where should I begin?

As one might expect there were a variety of learning styles exhibited in the new teacher group–self-starters, perfectionists, doubters, focused workers, anxious learners, and more.  It was interesting to watch the group navigate through the project, doubt their ability to complete it, and persist through the quick timeline to get the job done.  It was fascinating to watch them work through their initial anxiety, especially when Brandi indicated that they would display their work and go through a critical review exercise.

In the discussion afterwards, it was very interesting to hear the new teachers identify with what their students must be feeling and going through as they navigate different projects from Teacher X, Y, and Z.  Always subjected to being evaluated, graded, and scrutinized.

The above video shows the product of their work, some interaction as they were posting their comments on each person’s map, and Brandi reviewing the comments before we began our group discussion of the activity.

We heard from many of the new teachers that this experience helped open their eyes and appreciate what students experience.  Our goal was to help them trigger some of their own creative juices, as well as have them experience how classwork can be confusing and intimidating for students.

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