Today I taught a lesson about categorizing and classifying. Instead of me merely explaining and demonstrating what it means to categorize and classify things, I had my kids participate in a small group activity in which they had to take 20 words printed on cards and classify them into groups. (Of course we did an example as a whole class first!).
My students from recent years must've spoiled me. They were so energetic, creative, and into "hands on" activities like this. This class...not so much. Each group came up with one way to classify and then asked if they could just write the words instead. Most groups classified the words in the same exact way I had shown in the example! I wanted to shake them and ask, "What's wrong with you kids? You get to be up and out of your seat! You get to talk! You get to be creative! There are no wrong answers!" Literally, after only 5 minutes of working, several kids approached me and asked me if they could sit down now.
It was depressing. I'm really going to have to work on this group. They would rather complete worksheets than participate in an activity where they get to be out of their seat. It's not that I don't want them to be able to sit and work quietly by themselves, but there's a spark that's been extinguished along the way, a zest for learning and fun that's supposed to sustain them until at LEAST junior high. It's too early for these babies to be jaded. It's going to be my job this year to rekindle the spark.