“Good afternoon! I’m happy to introduce myself as your teacher for the rest of the year,” I said to start Block 4 on Monday, April 3.
“Where’s Ms. A?”
“But this is math! You teach English!”
“You’re not our teacher! This is a joke.”
“It is a joke! It’s April Fool’s! You’re pulling an April Fool’s on us!”
And the perceptive student was right: we were pulling an April Fool’s Day joke, all throughout the high school, in many of our fourth block courses. But it wasn’t a joke with no point. It was a Switch with a Purpose (SWAP).
A few weeks ago, a group of teachers chatted during our planning period about how fun it might be to teach another’s class, to see a different group of student tackle something in another classroom, to be a fly on the wall in a space unlike our own. Out of this conversation grew the idea to take our expertise in one subject area and develop a connection for a students in another subject area, a way to demonstrate how interdisciplinary the learning we do each day truly is.
It was only a 15 minute mini-lesson, but the connections and implications of the “joke” were meaningful and significant. In an Algebra 2 class, the students used numbers to explore how symbols carry meaning, in much the same way that the Creative Writing students I normally meet with during that block do with words. The “poems,” made entirely of numbers, that the students wrote reflected everything from deep and meaningful relationships with family members battling illnesses to victories on the baseball field and birthdays of loved ones. We were able to discuss how meaning is carried and communicated in written and spoken language.
The experience was enjoyed by many. A SWAP between music and history teachers resulted in a discussion, as Suzanne Kraai, described of “the 4 verses to the Star Spangled Banner as they wrapped up their unit on the battle of 1812. We talked about why Francis Scott Key turned the Fort McHenry battle into a song and the power music has to convey history. It was fun and different. The kids were super engaged and excited about it, and it was a fun, fresh perspective not only on history, but for me with music!” Art teacher Donna Aceino described the “wonderful connection between verbal and visual communication (Images, logos, color emotion). [It was a g]reat experience making interdisciplinary connections” that she enjoyed in an art / English class SWAP.
In all, 7 pairs of teachers flip-flopped classrooms for the brief lesson, startling the students and expanding, in a lighthearted way, on the many critical learning experiences our classes enjoy each day. Perhaps there are more SWAPs, April Fool’s Day related or not, in our EC future!