So, my wife has inspired me to write on this subject with all the stories of the cool things she does in her first grade classroom. There is all mess of amazing activity that goes on, in part because it is so difficult to maintain their attention for longer than 10 seconds (don't worry, in high school, that timespan stretches to 15 seconds). It got me thinking at most districts proficiency numbers, where it is most often the case that elementary schools do great, middle schools so-so, and high schools struggle to be deemed proficient each year.
So what's so different? I think a lot of it has to do with the "silly", "immature", and "juvenile" games and activities that those teachers introduce. In high school, most activity is viewed as being too immature for our clientele, so we find ourselves slipping into teacher-centered lecture instead of promoting student-centered activity. Does proficiency go with it?
I'm well aware of the fact that there are numerous other factors: elementary school brains are developing rapidly, high school brains are focused on other things, environmental concerns, and easiness of test. I think these factors are reasonably disjoint from enjoyment and engagement felt during the school day. With a little activity(takes a lot of planning), we can probably get kids to enjoy our class just a little bit more.
When I'm working on a lesson, my last thoughts are "What will I teach?". The more important questions to ask are "What will they learn?", "What can they do?", and "How can I not lecture?"