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The Voices Within: Project 180, October 8, 2016

“I am so proud of this one.” –Vivian.

Yesterday, as she placed her essay of the week on my desk, Vivian, beaming brightly, shared the above sentiment, grabbing my attention, making my entire day. Glancing quickly at her theme statement, I congratulated her success and tucked her essay away in the rest of the pile. Then, this morning, shuffling through my feedback cards, I discovered that there was more to the story.

“Since I didn’t take Honors LA my freshmen year, I didn’t have as much knowledge for themes as other people did. So, for the first theme we had to write, mine was horrible. BUT when we worked with our group to write a theme with Sy’s help and worksheets, I learned how to write a great theme.” –Vivian

Here is Vivian’s proud accomplishment.

“Since our society influences the way we perceive things, often times, we are subconsciously forced to disregard the positive interpretation of things and focus on what society frowns upon.”

Mucho proud of this. So glad to be a part of Vivian’s learning story. I can’t wait for the next chapter. Here are the rest of the kids’ comments from the week.

“I think that instead of writing a lot of 3 paragraph essays every week we should do a larger one every like 2-3 weeks.” –Anonymous

Anonymous, the “larger” writing assignments are coming. The EOW is not going away. I think it is valuable practice. It challenges you to generate and articulate your ideas on a regular basis, and it gives me an opportunity to give you targeted feedback on a regular basis, too. Sorry. Probably not what you wanted to hear. Of course, there’s always the option to not do the EOW.

“For an essay of the week or something, I think if we did a topic about a current event that’s happening. It would be good for us. Mostly because a lot of us have opinions on them…”          –Anonymous

Anonymous, I agree. Up till now, I have tried to tie the EOW to the Text of the Week in order to connect our work, but on occasion, I can certainly select more timely topics. I might even consider letting you guys select your own topics as long as you still address the feedback target for the week. I’ll pay it some thought.

“I wish we could pour a lot of time (class time hopefully) and effort into one really good essay that takes like a month to write instead of churning out a bunch of low-effort essays. It gets stressful because they take a lot of time, even though we haven’t had much class time to practice or learn. A better use of time would be quick 3 sentence essays each week. They’re great practice and much shorter, so they’re easier to put effort into.” –Anonymous

Anonymous, as for the longer essays, see previous response to a similar concern. As for the 3-sentence essay, I agree, and when I can use that over a full 3-paragraph essay, I will.

“I think the essays are gonna be less done, so we should do a larger one whenever you think necessary. Just not every week!!–Anonymous

Anonymous, please see previous responses.

“Project 180 is wonderful. We can focus more on the learning than the grade. I don’t really like the EOW. We should do one every other week.” –Anonymous

Anonymous, please see previous responses.

“I love the idea that the work is optional because it helps me focus on doing homework I have in other classes, but I also feel like I can’t learn if we aren’t doing things in class because otherwise, I’m not motivated to do the work.” –Anonymous

Anonymous, thank you for bringing this to my attention. I tried to give you guys a lot more class time this week, and I will be conscious of it in the future. I hope this helps.

“I feel like you pass out TOO MANY papers. Can we limit the the amount of papers by using Google Classroom more?” –Lily

Lily, I hear you. I am working towards that. The biggest obstacle at present is that we only get the Chrome Books 2 days a week, so “paper” is still my default. On top of that, I worry about not all kids having access to wi-fi outside of school. But I wonder if we could make a digital option for those who do. I don’t know. Maybe we should discuss this as a class next week.

“I appreciate how willing you are to work with your students. I think that no homework is a great set-up for an LA Honors class. It take so much pressure off from my other AP and Honors classes. However, I would be hesitant to implement this in other classes, like a science class.” –Anonymous

Anonymous, I , too, wonder if this would work in other subjects. I would like to believe that it could/would, but I simply don’t know. 

“I do like this class; however, I don’t think we should spend as much time as we do on things like reflections, opening questions, and quests… We could have more time to do work, etc. without those. Maybe we could make up for the Q’s, reflections, and openers with more community circle.”–Anonymous

Anonymous, thank you for sharing your concerns. Hopefully, the modifications I made last week helped somewhat. But I will not be moving away from these things completely, I believe they serve an important role in creating and sustaining our culture and community. Still, I can try to be creative in how we do them.

“I love this system although my parents still expect me to turn in all of the assignments and essays. So, even though, the grade would allow me to be more relaxed in this class, I am still a bit overwhelmed by all the assignments I need to turn in…” –Anonymous

Anonymous, please know that I am both thrilled and sorry for your situation. I am thrilled that your parents take such an active role in your education, but I am sorry that you are feeling overwhelmed. I hope for you it ends up being one of those things that you appreciate later when you realize that it benefited you in the end. I hope. I will work hard on my end to help you arrive at that end.

🙂 –Anonymous

Anonymous, 🙂

“Just wanted to let you know I am only not doing the essays of the week because of all the other homework I have in math, history, and science. I am not just blowing it off because I get an A, and I will try to start doing them.” –Anonymous

Anonymous, glad that you have found some motivation. Maybe start by doing one every other week. That’s better than not at all, yes?

“I really really like this class! I think it’s the perfect mixture between fun and serious. The only problem I have is that I have a lot of homework in other classes, and I tend to push this class to the side, especially the essay of the week. So, the next time we have an essay of the week, I’m going to do it over the weekend and not do it last minute or not at all. Thanks for everything you are doing though! –Anonymous

Anonymous, see previous response. Maybe it would work for you, too?

“This class is amazing because he is very flexible when it comes to the work. We are in charge of our learning, which I like. If I do not get my work done, it’s not an “F.” It’s a missed opportunity. –Layla

Layla, thank you for making my year. If I were to provide a script for what I hoped a student might say about 180, this would be it. Exactly it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

So grateful that the kids feel free enough to tell me how it is. I hope they keep it up. We’ve got a long ways to go, and I am lucky to have such great company.



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