A Good Teaching Series “Play By Play”

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — In some ways, teaching is like sports: there’s a lot that’s unseen by the untrained eye. That’s one reason post-game analysis is popular. So why not do that for something vital to our future? Southern Education Desk reporter Dan Carsen used to be a teacher and a teacher-trainer. As part of our series What Makes Good Teaching, he offers a radio play-by-play from a classroom in Birmingham. To listen, click the arrow below. Scroll down to see pictures from a master teacher’s classroom and chess club.


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Brad Fournier, fourth-grade teacher at Birmingham’s Sun Valley Elementary, helps a student make a paper airplane for a math lesson.

“Fraction art” is the attention-catching order of the day for Fournier’s students.

Showing an example is always good. Kiana Huntington, right, agrees.

This is what engagement in a lesson looks like.

One of many examples of students’ “fraction art.”

Hands-on math: from fraction art to folding paper airplanes.

Fournier re-emphasizes a sharp student’s problem-solving strategy.

Dialed in and thinking hard.

Airplanes soar in a pre-lesson indoor “test-flight.”

“I love chess club!”

Ready to do some chess battle.

“I know this move! I know this move!”

Students practically beg for the smart-board stylus so they can show the class how they would get to checkmate on the board.

But what ARE those two moves?

Seriously. What ARE those two moves?

He’s got it. On the way to checkmate.

Fournier gives a strategic hint.

“Hmmmm. It’s a good thing I’ve learned patience and focus…”

Pondering the next move…

Evenly matched?

Fournier pulls ahead, but it’s early yet.

Photos by Dan Carsen.

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