Overall, I though the lesson went really well and I was happy with the discussions around the images. If I were to change anything, I would have given the students a handout sheet with the process of how to analyze a political cartoon and spaces to fill out their answers. I would also add more cartoons to be analyzed depending on the size of the class. If I were to actually this lesson in a real classroom setting I would certainly add more cartoons in order to create more groups and better get the point of the lesson across and I would go into more depth regarding the process of analyzing political cartoons as well.
As a whole, I think this lesson went well. But, if I had to change anything I would easily change my ‘presentation” because it was not really a presentation. It was a video and it made the lesson extremely difficult due to the fact it made it hard to go back to a slide due to the time (3 second). Therefore, If I were to do it again I would make it a presentation and test it out before I gave the lesson. However, I would rather this happen in our classroom setting then in my actual classroom. But, all in all, when I do this lesson in my class I will change little. I will change the presentation format and give the students more time to complete the given tasks. The students will also have a guided worksheet to help them answer questions.
I believe my lesson was a success overall. I think the sequence of the lesson flowed well, and my expectations for the students were communicated clearly. The subject matter was interesting and allowed for creative and thoughtful responses.
There is still plenty to work on, however. I need to get more comfortable pushing my students to engage with each other’s responses, instead of simply answering to please the teacher. If students aren’t providing many answers, I think it would be helpful to have guiding questions written down that I can lean on when students are having trouble engaging with content. Something that I can ask for them to talk over in pairs, and then hopefully return to the class to enrich the discussion. High school students, especially in the morning, tend to be very apprehensive to sharing, so having as many guiding questions as possible, and letting them work it out between themselves before presenting their findings to the class, might be a good way to make them feel more comfortable.
After delivering this lesson, my biggest takeaway is this:
The questions we ask our students are far more important than any answer we may ever give them.
As history teachers, we are tasked with teaching our students how to think. Although it is challenging to step off of center stage and create a student-centered classroom, it is a challenge we must all accept. To better prepare lessons for my students going forward, I hope to center each day around a timeless central question. This central question will guide each decision made in class, serving as the foundation for the lesson. This central question will also provide structure to the class so that students can understand where they are and where they are going.
My hope is that centering each lesson around a central question will solve some of the challenges concerning clarity, purpose, and organization that I faced during this lesson. Additionally, I learned that more planning, rehearsal, and making sure that course content ties back to the central question will serve students well and make lessons significantly less stressful to teach.
Overall, this practice lesson helped expose what I’m doing well and what I need to pay more attention to. Additionally, it allowed me to practice a lesson in a lower-stakes environment before I deliver it to the class.
I look forward to doing more practice lessons in the future,