Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Seeing Themselves

Part of the "Change the World"  project that I hope you'll participate in and comment on here or here requires my kids to write 5 reflective  posts about their progress.

The first was due last week. I wasn't sure what to expect. While my students' ability to write about their lives in their journals has been  steady,  I was worried asking them to reflect on their work in such a focused manner might give them problems.

Turned out my worries were misplaced. Julia writes:
From the explanation of this project as a whole, it seems unbearable. Completely impossible. My expectations were that there was no way I could do it. When I first looked it over, I didn’t even know how or where to begin. At this point in time though, I’m pleased with the progress I’m making on this project.

She goes on to make certain her audience doesn't confuse her progress with ease. Still, it was her last three sentences that got me:
I think the obstacles are there, but not impossible. Mostly, I think that as a 10th grade English class, we are doing something different and amazing. That’s the most satisfying progress so far.

She's excited about learning. While not every student is putting his or her excitement in quite the same form, something different is going on. Over the last few classes, I've answered questions about finding better sources, better change agents, writing letters, correctly formatting direct quotes...I mean a 10th grade student to asked how to set up a direct quote.

Sometimes, things go ok.

More later.


Anonymous said...

Even though Julia is my daughter, and I may be partial, this project is so stimulating, so intriguing that I can't help but be excited with her! I cannot thank you enough for helping her learn with a purpose, a direction, and most of all, with passion! Anne Marie

wsh1266 said...

I was amazed to see what happens at SLA when you let kids just express themselves- when it's safe, encouraged and part of what they are learning to do. You are creating a group of problem solvers, of kids that are tolerant of others viewpoints, but find whatever they have to say equally important and persuasive, and are not shy about contributing. These are kids that have trust in the adults around them> The faculty and staff trust that letting students have a say doesn't undermine authority or mean there is no discipline or direction in a classroom. There's a great social contract going on at SLA that makes it seem like anything is possible- and it's true.

I'd like to offer/ask if you'd like to come to Podcamp NYC and present on this to the other educators who are coming- and if possible, I would really like to have the kids come as well. The conference is April 25 & 26 and is being held at Polytechnic University in Brooklyn. Somehow, either having people take the train into NY and then subway to bBrooklyn (The college is right off the Jay Street subway stop) we need to make something like this happen, even if only to demonstrate one of the ways to change the world is to disseminate your ideas to others.

Whitney Hoffman
Podcamp NYC organizer