Gonna take a short side route this morning. Gonna write about my seniors. Though I am not using Project 180 with them, I wanted to offer a glimpse of the journey that we began yesterday. We are getting ready to read Animal Farm. Our essential question for the unit is “How does power influence how decisions are made in society?” Yesterday, we began with a social experiment. I presented a scenario in which the students at CHS revolted, and all adults had been permanently dismissed from the building. Now in charge, the students’ task was to draft and adopt a set of commandments for all students to live by with the adults out of the picture. Of course, they had to play along, accepting the parameters that they still had to go to school from 8 – 3, Monday thru Friday. Thus, parameters loosely set, the kids got to work.

It was nothing short of fascinating. Oh, it was messy and mildly chaotic, but it was intriguing to watch them interact. I strictly stayed out of it, resisting my educator urges to give direction, to admonish inactivity, to…be the adult. I gave them the entire period, telling them that I would simply watch and take notes. And that’s what I did as they worked through the trials and tribulations of working as a community. Some took an active role. Some took a more passive role. Many did nothing at all, staring into their phones, their default escape from any awkward realities. And it was awkward. It was 38 minutes of awkward for my 4th period class. For my 5th, they managed 15 minutes of awkward. For each class, I took nearly 5 pages of notes, capturing–as best I could–the nuances of their interactions, which I will share with them as we debrief the activity today. One thing that struck me, especially from fourth, was how “adulty” the commandments were (draft example above). “Students shall complete work in a timely manner.” Ha! Gonna call BS on that.  Anyway, it was the beginning of what I hope proves to be an interesting, eye-opening experience for our newest round of “adults” about to meet the “real world.” Wanted to share.

As for Project 180, my sophs began their own journey of writing argumentative letters to the school board, addressing the controversy of using movies to teach the Holocaust. The kids will get a chance to support or protest the use of the movies The Book Thief, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and Life is Beautiful at CHS. I am thankful that I can provide a “real” purpose and audience for their writing.

In other news, with all but a handful of parent letters in, all have elected to stay with 180.  Once I have them all in hand, I will share my thoughts on what the results might mean.

Happy Tuesday, all.