One of the major themes early in Tuesdays with Morrie is tension, or ‘Tension of Opposites,’ as Morrie himself names it. This is the idea that people are often pulled in several directions (a rubber band, Morrie says). We are pulled to do something we have to do, but also pulled towards what we want to do. Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays with Morrie, reflects and writes about his own youth. He had such a desire to be successful, earn money, and make money. But he also had a desire to be close with others, especially his old friend and professor, Morrie.
The idea of tension is extremely important for students to understand, so I wanted to have a class discussion on it. However, my English 10 kids had been struggling lately with whole-group activities. Instead of it being a productive discussion, lately it ended up being a few students talking, the majority sitting and listening, and a few students completely disruptive and off-task. That wasn’t going to work with an important and complicated theme like this.
So, instead, I decided to make a worksheet: Tension of Opposites
This worksheet was a part of my Work Day & Task List. [To read more about that, click here.] The idea was that the students would do this worksheet during class time independently, asking questions when needed. When everyone was finished (it had to be turned in before the end of the period), we would go over it and I would make sure the students understood what Morrie was talking about with the ‘rubber band’ idea.
I thought this was a productive, and useful way to teach important material without doing the same thing every class period. Instead of a lecture or whole-group discussion from the get go, students could use their own knowledge to discover and understand the theme first. Switching up learning!