I was running around the building on Thursday returning flip cameras to members of our group. First I walked into a science 9 class (one of the focus classes) and found the students building 3D versions of Mitosis using yarn. Then I wandered directly across the hallway into a Spanish 9 class (another focus class) and found the students working on a game similar to "Pictionary" but with playdough. The Spanish 9 students had a new list of 15 vocabulary words. They worked with a partner, for 10 minutes, to create a play dough symbol for each word. (For example a lake could be a blob of blue) This encouraged them to become familiar with the new vocabulary. Then, they played a game with another pair of students. One student from each pair picked a word that they would like to "show" with playdough. They quickly created a playdough symbol and the first partner to say the word in Spanish won that round.
As I wandered through both classrooms I noticed students focusing on both the hands on activity (the playdough and working with yarn) but also constantly going back and re-checking information in their books or on their sheets. I also noticed a lot of focused student to student discussion and certainly an element of enjoyment in both classes.