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The Final Act: Project 180, Day 86


See it. Hear it. Say it. Believe it. 

Well, at least that’s the hope. Yesterday, in an attempt to add a bit of novelty to our Passion Paper publishing party, I made name placards for my kids. I simply placed the word “writer” where it would sit beneath their names, signifying their role for the day, signifying a role I have asked them to play since first we came into contact back at the beginning of our journey in August. At that time, it was just an idea; it was just words. They did not know me. I did not know them, but I knew what I wanted from them, for them. As such, I presented the “roles” (see below) that I expected them to play via my “Roles, Routines, Rights, and Responsibilities” document that I handed out with my syllabus. Of course, at the time, it was merely teacher talk to them–just another teacher talking about his class. Wonk, wonk, wonk. But I wasn’t just talking; I was setting the stage, the stage on which we would rehearse our roles in the weeks to come. In particular, one important role occupied much of our rehearsal time. Beyond the work of the role, the writing, we also practiced getting into character with our daily Mindset Mantra.

We are valued members of this community.

We are readers.

We are writers.

We are learners.

We are awesome.


We ended each period, each day with this. It began with “You” (hear it). For the first two weeks I said to them, “You are valued….” Then, it was “I” (say it). For the next two weeks, they said, “I am valued….” Finally, for the rest of the semester, it became “We” (say it). “We are valued….” They saw it, they heard it, they said it, and I hope they now believe it.

Today is the second to the last day of our first semester. We are on two-hour blocks for finals. Today, periods 1, 3, and 5 will meet. Tomorrow, 2, 4, and 6 will meet. And while the kids will be taking final exams in their other classes over the next days, in room 211 they will be performing their final acts, living into the roles in which they were cast, roles in which they have rehearsed, roles in which they have shined. Yesterday, ten performers delivered their final acts. As an audience, we laughed, we cried, we shrieked, we marveled, we admired, we squirmed, we learned, we cheered, we applauded. And we lived–together, in a moment. A final beautiful act. Today, more will perform, more will deliver. And today we will live again, roused to life by the words of writers. And as the curtain closes, we will remember. We will speak one last time as we take our bows.

We are valued members of this community.

We are readers.

We are writers.

We are learners.

We are awesome.



Here are the various roles that I will need you to play over the course of the year. Sometimes, our day’s path will require you play one specific role; most times, our path will require that you play many simultaneously. Either way, I promise I will not ask you to stretch yourself beyond your limits. You got this.

Role #1: Yourself. This is your most important role. I need you to be who you are. I realize that the setting in which we find ourselves sometimes impacts our ability to be ourselves, but my hope is that the classroom community and culture we create during our time together will give each of us the comfort and confidence to be who we are. This is the role that matters most to me as I join you in your journey this year. I am excited to know YOU.

Role #2: Valued Community Member. This is your second most important role. At present, many of us are not well-acquainted, but we are in this together either way. And as we will spend a lot of time together both struggling and celebrating over the days to come, my hope is that we establish a community that is rich in relationships and in excess of empathy. We are a community.

Role #3: Reader. This will be one of your worker roles. Lots to read as we explore various texts along numerous paths, discovering the power in others’ words. I need you to be a reader. I need you to believe you are a reader. We are readers.

Role #4: Writer. This is also a worker role. My hope is that you write more this year than you have in all your other years combined. I believe this is perhaps one of the most important skills you can develop for life now and later. I need you to be a writer. I want you to believe you are a writer. We are writers.


Role #5: Mistake Maker. Another worker role. By now, you know there are no penalties for mistakes in our room. In fact, mistakes are enthusiastically encouraged as they are launching points into learning. Mistakes lead to learning. We will travel down many mistake paths this year, which means we’ll find lots of learning. We are mistake makers.

Role #6: Reflector. Last role but no less an important one. By now you also know that I will expect you to add to your learning story each day in your Journey Journal. Each day we will end our time together, reflecting on and sharing from our day’s experiences. Reflection is such an important part of learning. I really need you to become reflectors.

Many roles. Many rehearsals. Many successes.

Today’s Trail

Along today’s trail we will…

…begin with Smiles and Frowns.

…Finish the Final Act.

…end with a Sappy Sy Rhyme.

Happy Wednesday, all. I will have a bit of heavy heart today as the curtain closes. But I am so damn proud of my kids. I hear rumor of a sequel coming out next semester.

Do. Reflect. Do Better. 

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