I guess since those ideas were in the ether, Cheryl and I decided to write a week's worth of daily reflection blog posts that outlined what the days were like from a teacher's perspective. Much like the aforementioned posts, we won't be concerning ourselves with all of the grading and other planning/homework we do outside of school (which is ample, for sure), but restricting ourselves to what happens between the first bell and the last. We hope you'll find this reflection useful. I know I will.
So: Day 1. Monday, October 27.
1st period - AP English Language (11th graders), 37 students
We're working with: the rhetorical triangle; video making, production, and analysis; pedantic grammar; blogging; communication/argumentation skills; patterning/finding arguments; puppets; and creating our own video SparkNotes for Of Mice And Men. We have a longer-term Blank White Page (genius hour) project hanging out on the back burner, and as you will see shortly, a new project impending.
Next, we began scripting puppet videos for the purposes of teaching slightly more elevated grammatical concepts-- things like "the difference between gerunds, verbs, and participles," and "recognizing independent and dependent clauses + the punctuation that goes with them." They had to script a video (90 seconds or less) that taught the rule, was funny/engaging, and required a conversation with the puppet (or between two puppets). This happened for about thirty minutes, though it felt like much less time than that.
We closed class by picking up on the tail end of a project we started last week: making video SparkNotes of the first two chapters of Of Mice and Men. Most groups had filmed puppet skits for chapter 1 (I'll share some of the finished ones tomorrow), but hadn't gotten into chapter 2 yet. The students seemed to struggle more with chapter 2-- it has many more characters, and since the chapter summaries need to be less than a minute, it forces the students to pick out the most important information. And often, it's more difficult to cull out fluff and compress your argument than it is to keep adding extras and hope some of it is good enough.
2nd period - planning
This is when I read the Wiggins article I cited above, and, while talking to Cheryl, had one of those, "holy crap this could be really cool" moments. After I read the article, we decided that the students for the rest of the day should start with writing a blog post about what their period-by-period day looked/felt like, leading towards making a one minute video clip that talked about their typical day--maybe with puppets, maybe not. This will tie back into AP tomorrow or Wednesday, too-- it's a great speaker/purpose/audience task, one that can easily be adjusted to the academic level of the students.
3rd period - Desktop Publishing, 27 students
Yes, you did read that right- a conversation I had 2nd period changed the plans for the rest of the day. That's kinda the definition of "concerted chaos": the willingness to go with whatever works and inspires and connects and helps students make meaning, whether that idea comes two weeks before or fifteen minutes before.
Here's the assignment as given to these kids via Google Classroom:
Read the article/blog post at http://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2014/10/10/a-veteran-teacher-turned-coach-shadows-2-students-for-2-days-a-sobering-lesson-learned/
This describes the day of a teacher who followed two students for two full days and did everything (class-related) that they did.
I need you to do 2 things after reading.
1. Go on your blog and write a response to the following questions:
What would I see, what would I feel, and what would I do IF I followed YOU all day for one school day and did everything (classwork-wise) that you do?
2. Each person in here needs to film (probably on their phone or their friend's phone) a 1-minute video that kind of summarizes the content on their blog post. I want you to talk about your school day. I want stories. You can do this in partners, bc it's way easier to talk TO SOMEONE than it is to talk to a camera by yourself. Your actual submission to this assignment should be the video-- either attached after you uploaded it to GDrive, or the youtube link.
4th period: English 11 (American Lit), 33 students
This class is mostly boys and meets for ninety minutes at the very end of the school day. So, we usually have to stay pretty active and change tasks a lot to keep focus on the task at hand. I know that when I'm in long-form PD, I am usually mentally drained/done by lunch time, and I try really hard to keep it high-interest and not hover too long on one topic.
Today's class was very similar to 3rd period, except without the "make a video" cycle, which I'm saving for tomorrow or Wednesday. So they wrote a blog post about what their typical school day looks like, plus this other little assignment:
Make a doc and describe your puppet (physically) as closely as you can. You may only include physical descriptors. You MAY NOT SAY things like "this is a minion" or "this is Bob Marley."
So, that's a day in the life of my students and me. Obviously, it leaves out the hundreds of individual conversations/conferences/hand-holdings/hugs/announcements/interruptions for makeup picture day that make up a typical school day.