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Tears, Icebergs, and No Hands: Project 180, Day 66

Tears. Finished “reading” a film today. Ran out of tissues. As with our other Holocaust films, The Book Thief and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Life is Beautiful exacted an emotional cost from its young viewers. But unlike the other two, the entire film was in Italian, so we read the subtitles; we read the film. And now, the real work begins.

I use the films to create context. If kids are going to develop empathy and remember, they have to have some context first. But the content of that context requires a critical view. These films are Hollywoodized versions of the Holocaust, and their use in the classroom is being questioned. So, I am now going to ask the kids to be critical evaluators of using the films as a means to learn about the Holocaust. Hattie, author of the book I shared yesterday, suggests that critical evaluation should be a central purpose in education. We should desire a citizenry of critical evaluators. To that end, I have created a situation that takes kids beyond enjoying a series of films in class to evaluating and judging whether they should even be watching them in the first place. When we return from break, they will work through this very question in their fall semester performance task.

The films have taken time. But it has not been empty or wasted time. We did not watch the films for the simple sake of “enjoying a movie.” The kids knew from the beginning that they would ultimately have to take a critical look at the use of the films. And along the way, the kids have had an opportunity to develop their analytical skills, looking at the films through the lenses of historical accuracy, point-of-view, and audience impact. And importantly, it has given me an opportunity to give them feedback (0.75) and help them grow in area that is difficult for most: analysis. Hard to think of it as a waste of time when I see growth in this challenging area occurring before my very eyes.

Icebergs. Time for another page in the kids’ learning stories. Learning Log time, and also time for the kids to check in on the health of their A’s (1.44). Earlier, as we were working through growth mindset, I had the kids consider the “success is an iceberg” metaphor, considering all that is not visible of one’s personal struggle towards success. I now want to revisit that metaphor using the above graphic that my lovely wife, the art teacher, created for me last night. I will ask the kids to write the current chapter of their learning stories in the space of the A-berg. Excited to see what’s beneath.

No hands. Inspired by an idea from one of my college kids this past quarter (thank you, Sarah), I am going to do an experiment with the kids today during our class discussion (0.82) on the first third of Night.  We are not going to raise our hands as a signal of wanting to speak. In the “real world” adults don’t raise their hands. In my professional, collaborative meetings, we don’t raise our hands when we wish to contribute to the conversation; we find polite entry points into the discussion. Want to try this with the kids today. I’ll let you know how it goes. It’ll either be brilliant or disastrous. Only find out if I give it a shot. I’ve never been one to shy away from a chance to challenge convention. And today, I dare challenge the sanctity of the raised hand! Gonna get my rebel on.

Happy Thursday, all.

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