I always felt that it was important that my students knew what was going on in the world, so with this class as well as with my others, their daily homework assignment was either to listen to, watch or read the important news of the day. The next day we would start off with a recap of the major news stories that occurred. Coincidentally, one student years later wrote me from college stating that he did not appreciate this assignment until he reached college. He thanked me for having him do this.
This tough class was reluctant to do the daily homework so I decided to have them do a weekly news show. I had them decide what we should cover on the news show. They came up with the following: world news, national news, state news, local news, sports, fashion, movies, music, business, and weather. I was very pleased when they really got into this weekly project. The first weather person after a couple of weeks told me to step aside. He was going to take charge of this show. He even decided to give the show to the teachers during their lunch period.
This activity really turned this class around. They were a joy to work with the rest of the school year and my colleagues loved the change in attitude of this class.
One day years later my wife and I were walking in midtown Manhattan when someone yelled, “Mr. Blumengarten!” Boy was I surprised when the former weather forecaster on our weekly news show ran up to me and he was wearing an NBC jacket!
It is important to know when you should step aside and let your students take charge of their learning. Of course, you should still be present to facilitate and help them along their paths of discovery.