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Again: Project 180, Day 18

She didn’t say it, but her eyes couldn’t hide it. Again. You want me to do it again?

I do. I thought back.

Moments earlier. “Sy, will you take a look at my theme?”

“Of course. Let’s take a look,” I replied, positioning her paper on my desk so that she and I could both see it as I scanned her work.

“Okay, Bec,” you waded out into the pool and discovered an important theme. Thank you. But in your clarify, you are still leaning toward summary, not analysis,” underlining the the two key ideas in her claim (theme). “You have to address, explain, and defend your discovery, not the cite.”

“Yeah, it is kinda summary still isn’t it?”

“Yep, but you are moving in the right direction. In the end, I don’t really care about the cite. I care about your thinking. That’s what I am looking for. I want you to try something. Take this home this weekend and clarify your claim without referencing the cite. I think it will force you to focus on explaining, defending your thinking. Then, I want you to compare it with what you shared with me right now. Finally, I want you to do it again (third time), finding a happy medium between the two. Okay?”

Though I believe that Bec (she’s that kid) likely did as I asked over the weekend,  the challenge of “again” is real, for kids have not been conditioned to work to learn; they have been conditioned to work to get done. And that’s the reality I face–have faced for years: one and done. So I am trying to change that, and de-emphasizing grades has been a big step in the right direction. There is no “grade” attached to the practice that Bec and the rest of my kids are doing. It is simply what I name it: practice. And in my class practice pays for no grade, but it does purchase feedback, the food of learning. In the past, grades served as empty calories, spoiling the appetites of my kids. Grades given, they quickly asked to be excused from the table. But now, after getting a taste of feedback, I have them asking for seconds, even thirds. Of course, not all my kids are where Bec is, but I believe I can get them there. I believe I can get them to, if not embrace, then expect “again” as a necessary step in learning, but it’s not going to happen overnight.

Today’s Trail

Along today’s trail we will…

…begin with Smiles and Frowns. Love starting each period with this. Feel like we are really coming together as a community. Proud that each day our work begins with sharing a bit of our lives with each other. Laughter, applause, and empathetic gestures make my heart sing. Had the kids publish a sentence from their Seedfolks entry in their Journey Journals. Appreciated Evette’s statement. Yes, Evette. It takes work to build community. Glad that we work on it every day.

…begin the next phase of Mindset Mantras. For the past two weeks I have been saying the mantras. “You are valued members of this learning community. You are readers. You are writers. You are learners. You are awesome.” Today, and for the next two weeks, we will replace “you” with “I.” After this, we will move to “we” for the remainder of the year.

…distribute our third Life is Lit passage. This week we are looking at two passages. I am seeking to give the the kids some additional practice and feedback opportunities before our first performance next week.

…continue drafting narrative essays. The next two days are “We are writers” days. Plan is to just let the kids get their first drafts done. Will begin scheduled conferences next week.

…reflect in Journey Journals.

That’s the day in 211. Gonna be a long day for me. I start teaching an education class at Eastern Washington University on Monday and Tuesday evenings. Happy Monday, all.



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