A colleague and I introduced a project to our classes today. It’s a somewhat complicated project involving linking to and responding to newspaper articles and other students’ opinions. I thought the explanation this morning, complete with projected examples and checking for understanding, went well. I actually felt even a little pleased when there were only a couple questions.
Once our classes returned to our respective classrooms, a student raised his hand and asked, “So what exactly are we doing for the project?” Two others chimed in, “Yeah, we don’t get it either.”
*deep breath as I considered slamming my head against the table*
“I’m happy to go over it, but I’m curious why you didn’t ask that question when we asked for questions.”
He said, “You guys seemed really into the explanation, and I didn’t want you to think I didn’t get it.” The student beside him said, “I didn’t feel like I knew enough to ask a question.”
“So, why did you ask now?”
“You usually take our questions seriously, even the silly ones,” he said earnestly.
So, I broke the assignment into as small as components as I could (Do you understand finding a newspaper article? Do you understand finding a newspaper article about the Middle East? Do you understand finding a newspaper article about the Middle East and linking to it in a blog post? etc). At any sign of hesitation, I stopped and we talked through the requirements.
A good reminder that no questions isn’t necessarily worth patting yourself on the back.