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Freedom and Flexibility: Morning Minutes, May 9, 2016

End-of-the-Year Checklist

Honors LA 10

___ Website Post/Comment (Due May 23)

___ Express and Reflect Submission (Due May 23)

___ Mock Blog Due (May 23)

___ Independent Learning Project (Due May 23)

___ Sentence Final (May 23)

___ Injustice Speech (Due May 31)

___ Speech Self-Assessment (Due day after speech)

Last week, in an effort to both clarify and create a sense of urgency, I provided an end-of-the-year checklist of assignments for the kids, assignments which for the most part all come due on the same day, May 23. Thus, with the promise of class time along with my availability for assistance, the stage for the next three weeks was set, and I expected to students to dig in. Some did, but others struggled with where to begin in the list. Wanting to give them both freedom and responsibility, I asked them to employ the “energy-priority approach,” to make their decision on either the basis of motivation (what they felt like doing) or on the basis of priority (what required the most attention, advising them that, of all, the speech was the most important). With this, the work began. Of course, though, when kids are involved, things rarely go exactly as planned.

Taking the “energy” part of the approach deeply to heart, Ashley and Carissa came to me with a different idea in mind. They, still reeling from their state-assessment marathon with two more to run (math and science), asked if they could set aside the checklist and work on something that mattered most to them, writing a letter about state testing. Intrigued and inspired, I asked them to tell me more.

Essentially, fed up with the whole testing culture, which is especially amplified their sophomore years, they wanted to write a letter expressing their frustration, seeking to change the lunacy that state testing has become. I, of course, could not deny them the opportunity to put their vim and vigor to work and granted them the freedom to pursue their present passion. In fact, seeing an opportunity to be responsively flexible, I told them that this could take the place of their website post/comment requirement. Titled “A Storm is Coming,” the two young ladies drafted a piece that we will send to the newspaper, I will publish on my blog, and we will send off to our congressmen/women and any other relevant policy makers in the state. So proud of these two for discovering a real purpose for writing. They have put more energy into this than any of the academic writing assignments I’ve given them this year. That is not to say that academic writing is not important or doesn’t serve a purpose, it is to say that true motivation is pretty magical when it happens in the classroom, and this was certainly a goal of my Real-World Writing Project. Bravo ladies.

In large part, this is what I want to achieve next year. I want to provide experiences and opportunities for kids to pursue passion, making learning both relevant and meaningful, making it real, where commitment–not compliance–is king. Is that really so crazy?

Happy Monday, all.


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