Had visitors yesterday. Unplanned. Had no idea they were coming. Oh, I learned late that the new superintendent would be in the building yesterday morning, but I did not know that he and one of our assistant principals would stop by and stay for nearly a half hour watching the learning in 211. Of course, visits are not unusual at CHS. In fact, they are quite common, and while my room is no stranger to administrative walk-through’s, it was the first visit with Project 180 underway.
As such, always happy to engage others in conversations about the goings-on in my room, I jumped at the chance to talk with Rob and Ray about our learning community. The kids were already on one of our daily “Quick Quests,” in search of “Sweet So-What’s” and “Thoughtful Themes,” so that freed me up to share some of our story. Of course, it also shed light on the the engagement and activity of my kids, kids working and learning with no grades dangling in front of them, kids who were working to learn. Indeed, I could not have been more pleased with the real, unrehearsed buzz of my busy bees as I talked about them and our journey with the bosses. Perhaps worth pointing out is the fact that the new superintendent Mr. Roettger had no idea about Project 180 and the fact that he was in a room full of sophomores with guaranteed A’s for the year, a fact that I did not reveal till near the end of the visit, proud to point to my kids, energized and engaged, not for the sake of a grade but for the sake of learning and growing. Proud moment.
So every day in 211 begins with an entry task we call “connections.” It is an intentional activity designed with a few purposes in mind. One, it’s a consistent start-at-the-bell part of our day. The kids know to have their writer’s notebooks out at the bell. Two, it is daily, low-stakes writing practice, an opportunity to move ideas to paper. Three, most importantly, it gives us an opportunity to learn about our community as kids share their responses with various members in various ways. Here is the basic process.
- A writing prompt is projected on the screen (some fun, some serious).
- Kids get 2 minutes to write (continuous writing, not writing to get done).
- We share our writing (partners, teams, whole class, etc.).
Nothing fancy, but something important to building and maintaining our classroom community. Yesterday, I added a twist. I joined. To make it more novel, I used a six-sided die to roll and determine which group I would join for the activity. There are five groups, so if I rolled a one, I would go with group one, a three with group three, and so on. A six would make it my choice. Really, it was my plan to join all along, but I kept letting clerical duties (taking attendance) get in the way of more important matters–connecting with my kids. Attendance can wait. Connections first.
Today, We Write!
Excited to dig into the work today, for today we don our writers’ hats and practice the craft of writing. Using the hook resource sheet I provided them with yesterday, the kids will practice all 18 hook types. I was so pleased to find so many of the kids truly grateful for the resource, with many exclaiming, “This is exactly what I needed.” Music to my old ears.
And so, today, we write, not for the sake of the product, but the power of the process, a process designed to make my kids believe they are writers. Of course, some already have that belief, but for the ones who don’t, it gives them a chance for now to pronounce and live by the words, “I am not a writer…yet.” Yet. Ne’er a more important word existed.
Happy Tuesday, friends. Thank you for your continued support.