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‘The Sleeper’ – Active Learning

Have you ever had a student who was ‘The Sleeper’, someone who would fall asleep in your class?  Perhaps you’re the person falling asleep.  This is a great analogy for engaging students in active learning, and, can be emulated for online learning activities.  This article is a wonderful reminder of the beauty in teaching.

Thanks to Mike Wesch for allowing his article (text, animations and images – great work!) to be reposted here on eLearn Hub. You can find the original here.



I’m pretty sensitive to student reactions in my classes.

Sleeper001For better or worse, I really feed off of them.

I had one student who was just always sleeping.

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Or if he wasn’t sleeping he was giving me this strange dreadful look.

And here I was, armed with a dazzling HD screen with 2 million 73 thousand 600 points of light and a laser pointer

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and I just couldn’t get through to him.

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Actually, I had 4 Screens.

 

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I mean, I tried everything.  And the more I threw myself into it, the more it hurt.  Every time I saw him I couldn’t help but think, “I must be really boring.  Nothing I do or say matters.  This class is meaningless.  I’m wasting everybody’s time.”

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But sometimes I would just get mad.  Who does he think he is?  One day I just had enough, and I was just ready to … I don’t know …. and I went up to him and I said,

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Do you want to go to lunch?

 

I asked him why he sleeps in my classes and he started to describe his addiction to games.

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But it’s more than that.  He doesn’t just play them.  He makes them.

 

He started describing a complex game he had invented that used mythological heroes on hexagon cards that created what he called a “fog of war” game mechanic.  I couldn’t quite see it all, but I did see something else.

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I saw somebody who could, would and has thrown themselves into meaningful creative projects. I found someone who has been mishandled, mistreated,

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and under appreciated by an education system focused on frustratingly narrow pursuits.

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So I invited him to be part of a different kind of class. No powerpoints,

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no lectures, no textbooks, no syllabus no grades.

 

A class where students are respected for their strengths

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and given a chance to discover them

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Because that’s the real tragedy.  It’s not just that I saw David in a certain way.

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It’s that he saw himself that way too.

After watching David work day and night on our class project to create a game,

Sleeper17I see him and other sleepers a little differently.

 

 

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