Next we watch 10 minutes from a very compelling episode of House, projected digitally. The scene is of a high school student in class, getting ill– really connecting to these kids and their lives, emotionally grabbing them. Why is he ill? As House and his team frantically seek the answer to his illness, so now do the students. I think this use of TV drama is just great– not for an hour, not even thirty minutes, but 5 or 10– very effective for engaging and emotionally motivating students– I know I enjoy it.
Handouts are provided, and now the kids are working themselves, quietly but focused. Teacher is circulating, checking in with groups, but mostly they are self-directed, not needing much prodding or prompting. No droopy eyes here, not much yawning– they have a purpose, to solve this mystery.
I speak to the teacher, the one wearing scrubs. He is an English teacher, he tells me (I am a bit surprised). The kids get English credit, and other credits, for this class— so he is leading them in a class exercise in reading the medical mystery, critically thinking about it, and writing about it. He has distributed a handout that is a graphic organizer for the kids thoughts on the source of the illness.
The students now, table by table, venture a second diagnosis, refined from the first. He encourages them to think differently– not be afraid to disagree with each others- urges them to think outside of the box. As they offer answers, he keeps asking them “and why?” When the answers begin converging, lots of consensus growing around one answer, the teacher pushes back– “let’s have someone offer a counter-argument, let’s have someone argue against this.”