Thursday, January 10, 2008

Looking for some help from Big Brother

I'm standing in my classroom today, observing my sophomores in their groups discussing 1984 or Fahrenheit 451. Part one of each book was due today. Off to the corner, leaning on a lectern, I spent half the class scanning the room, listening to snippets of conversations...

"...but how can the "thought police" know what their thinking..."

"...and he never thought about his job before and Clarisse made him think about what he was doing for the first time..."

"...I think it means that the government wants to control everything and..."

As I listen, I also try to watch the different groups scattered around the room. Who has their head down? Who doesn't have a book? Who seems to be doing the most talking in their group? What are they writing down? Is it the homework that was due at the beginning of class? Should I walk over their and gently remind them to keep talking? Is everyone listening to each other?

During my numerous scans, I happened to catch the poster displayed prominently - and dare I say ironically? - above the laptop cart - "Big Brother is Watching You." Oh yeah, he is watching. Today, during 4th and 6th periods, he was me. I just wish I had ubiquitous two-way telescreens and mysterious thought police at my disposal. Until then, I'll just have to rely on my own eyes and ears to assess their daily efforts, and I'll continue to scribble down notes to myself, do my best to assess their efforts at discussion, and record letter grades in my planner. It's the best I can do.

1 comment:

Bill said...

Hey, I really enjoyed this post. With all of the emphasis on formative assessment these days, we really have become Big Brother, though I hope our intentions are a bit more benevolent.

But will they love us for it in the end?