When I started the Nelson book for the grade 5 I wasn't sure how I would extend the discussion beyond the chapters in the book.
The first chapter was about the first men on the moon and the crisis they faced. After we were done with the lesson and all actIvities I asked them the question, "What is our learning from this chapter." They all echoed it's about the moon landing, knowledge about space suit and guidance computers, etc. On further questioning they were a little perplexed about what else was I expecting them to answer. As the questions were narrowed down further, then came the moment of brilliance when one kid answered, "Aunty, it's how Neil Armstrong managed an emergency." This opened up a whole new avenue to explore for us. We had an excellent discussion on how not to panic in an emergency, how to be willing to take a risk to achieve something, how to be calm and confident in a crisis so the mind is clear to think of managing the crisis or finding a solution. I was on cloud nine to be having such a discussion with my grade 5.
With this discussion set as a standard we moved onto the next chapter "The aliens have landed," an extract from The City of Gold and Lead. We completed the chapter with the activities which included a sci-fi story write-up. Now it was time for discussion as to what is this lesson actually teaching us. This was a toughie. They all talked about spotting aliens, finding about extraterrestrial life, and other such ideas. So now I had to come up with questions which would provoke them to think about where I intended to steer my discussion.
So I had to ask them the question, "Why does the protagonist despite his fears, discomfort and fatigue form a group and fight the masters?" The discussion was all over the place when one of them said, "Because he wants to be free." He then elaborated that everyone wants to be free and not controlled by others. That was an Aha moment for all to take the discussion onto the next level. What leads to invasions and enslaving people. We came to a conclusion that it's because of fear of others. Then, the question asked was, "Why fear someone and oppress them" and "what causes the fear in people." Pat came the replies, "Because they are different and not the same like the others." "Is it okay to oppress someone because they are different?" The conversation went on and we agreed that it's okay to be different. Everyone has the right to freedom whether they are different from others or are similar.
As for the next chapter and the next discussion, that's for another blog.
By Naqeeb Sultana
Middle School Faculty