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Welcome to My Classroom: Project 180, Day 1


The journey continues. Today, I begin year two of Project 180. And while this year’s route will be a lot different, the goal is the same: find better. Thus, armed with my three favorite tools, Do. Reflect. Do Better, I will journey once again into the gradeless realm, sharing my learning as I seek to find better ways to help my kids learn.

So, join me. Once again, I will share each day in a blog post, but this year I will strive to make my classroom even more public, sharing the plan for the day, the resources I will use, and a reflection from the previous day.

The Plan

In keeping with the whole journey metaphor, I am going to present the day’s plan in the form of “Today’s Trail.” Here, I will share the day’s targets and tasks that we will encounter along our path. Below is what I will have written on the front board this morning. Explanation in blue is for you, my readers.

Today’s Trail

Along today’s trail we will…

…define grades (Grade Cards). As I shared in the linked post, I will ask my kids to define what they believe is required for an A, B, and C grade. I will give them very little information about why we are doing it, but I will lead them through a quick what-to-consider brainstorm, offering no answers, only questions. They will write their names and definitions on a 3×5 card, and I will collect them. I will keep them until mid-term when they will have their first opportunity to select and support a grade. Importantly, I am doing this before I reveal my grading approach for the year. In fact, I am not going to share that until Friday, day three. I am doing this first, so I do not influence their definitions. On a side note, it will be interesting to see how many are disappointed in my not giving them all an A to start the year. Word travels, especially word of free A’s. That trip is over. Hitting a new trail this year. Sorry, kiddos. 

…hear my hopes for your discoveries (Letter to Students). I will distribute and read my letter to the kids, sharing what I hope they discover on our journey this year. I want this to set the stage for our experience. No syllabus on day one. Just my sincere pledge to my kiddos. 

…consider community and conflict in Seedfolks. I love this little book. I have used it for many years in many ways. It’s great for introducing community. It also fits with our theme for the semester: injustice. I love reading to my kids, so over the first seven days, I will read two to three chapters, asking the kids to consider what the author reveals about community and conflict. We will briefly share our discoveries. Today, we will meet the characters Kim and Anna. Love. This. Book.

…define and share ourselves in a Who Am I? Wordle. From a we-are-a-community (the classroom “our garden”) perspective, I will frame the need for the members of a community to be connected, and those connections begin with knowing, so we will use the Wordle activity to begin making connections. The kids will have to identify ten nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs that reflect who they are. They will “find” each in a short sentence. For mine: I am a teacher. I write a blog. I am dependable. I live simply. Once their sentences are complete, they will capture the words in a Wordle, adjusting size for importance. This will happen today and tomorrow. Today, each will share a sentence or two aloud with the class. The finished product will become the cover for their Journey Journals, giving me a quick visual for helping me get to know my kids. I tried to be sneaky about throwing the parts of speech in there. Just a quick check for understanding.

…begin our Journey Journals. This is one of my biggest changes for the year. I am going to be super intentional about reflection. And that will begin today. More specifics in the linked post, but each day we will log our day’s journey. I will do this with the kids. I want them to discover the necessity of reflection in learning, so I am making it a daily priority. Slow, easy start with it today. I will ask the kids to read the handout tonight, so we can discuss in greater detail tomorrow. 

And that’s where our path will lead today. Tomorrow, I will share how it goes. So eager to get year two underway. Thank you for joining me in my classroom. Special shout out to Project 180 partners, Jenna Tamura and Maddie Alerete. Thanks for joining me ladies. Gonna be the best year ever. Glad you are out here with me.

Do. Reflect. Do better. 

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