Traditionally, I'll get to the start of the fourth quarter and begin counting the days until summer vacation. It's the nature of the beast. After preparing for and completing FCAT testing, we are truly on the downward slope of the year. The students sense it and largely shut down.
This year, something different is happening. I'm actually dreading the end of school.
Ms. Jacks and I just broke up a planning session in which we put together the first days of a unit on social action that will hopefully push our students to research, invest in, and push for change on a social issue of their choosing. Jacks teaches in across town in a traditional middle school. The collaboration resulted in the discovery of a United Streaming video that will work wonders for introducing the contemporary history of social change.
Better still is the utilization of a wiki to plan out the unit so that we have a living document built to utilize next year no matter where either of us is teaching. We found it helpful in giving us both a place where we can keep, manipulate and communicate information while maintaining transparency.
Also in the domain of things that make me proud and excited to be a part of Phoenix is the work our 9th-grade reading teachers are doing to incorporate reading instruction into their classrooms. I set them up with a wiki on the topic so that they would be using it from the get go. Their updates and additions are impressive. Again, it's not the technology as much as the collaboration, transparency and creativity the technology has inspired. I also get the sense that these teachers are excited about using these new tools/tactics to inform learning in their rooms. I can't help thinking how much I would have loved to be in every classroom of Phoenix when I was growing up.
One more subject area here and then I'll get back to reading. Mr. Timmons e-mailed me last night to let me know he had started his own blog. I cannot communicate how impressed I am. Timmons had been holding out because he "had nothing to say." His first post relays what changed his mind. At the beginning of the year, one member of the faculty at Phoenix had a blog. Now, we're at 6!
This is to say nothing of the growth we've been experiencing over on my class blog. It's admittedly babystepping, but we're moving. With several student posts and two podcasts, we've got a presence. The presence was made all the more exciting when my students started noticing comments from Paul Wilkinson of New Zealand. Suddenly, what they have to say can be heard. I know the excitement in that feeling.