Bingo. He threatened to do it and he did. This is what happened:

Steve Thomas’s students arrive at their classroom door to find all the desks pushed to the side. They hesitate…

“Come on in and find a spot on the floor! I’ve put an intriguing problem on the board for you, one designed to stretch your thinking. I wonder what you will discover! You have the whole period to work on it. You can work alone or with anyone you’d like. You can use any resources in the room or in the library. You can ask me any questions.”

Forty minutes later…

“For homework, explain to someone at home or in your neighborhood what you did today in class and then come to class tomorrow prepared to write, expressing your thoughts and feelings about what you did—and how you felt about sharing it.”

No lecture. No Notes. No roll call.

Have you ever done such a lesson? Have you wanted to but never decided to do it? Here’s how Steve got there:

Steve had wanted to do something like this ever since he saw Dead Poets Society over Christmas break. He became fascinated as he watched John Keating (played by Robin Williams) take his students to the trophy room on the first day of school. Steve promised himself he would try something as radical upon returning to school after the New Year.

He saw a movie that moved him. No doubt, he had had hankerings for doing what he did. John Keating’s trip to the trophy room pushed him over the edge.

This is the opening of Chapter 4 “Design Invitations” in Teaching from the Middle of the Room: Inviting Students to Learn that offers key ideas for engaging today’s students. Purchase from Amazon: