My fourth period Literature class loves to create visual replicas of their reading. Here are some examples of the awesome performance tasks that they created from their menu of options: a Maycomb Tribune newspaper recounting events from the trial, a collage on one of the characters, Scout’s scrapbook, a revised book cover, and a character sketch. I absolutely love both the Map of Maycomb as well as the silhouettes of Jem and Scout – so creative!
Students in my 4th period Literature class love to combine Art with Literature. Almost every member of the class selected a hands-on art project to showcase their understanding of the four major characters of Tennessee Williams’ award-winning play, The Glass Menagerie. Teachers can apply this lesson to any literary work by helping students to reflect on the characters’ personalities, attitudes, talents, and interests. The best part is that I have lots of artwork to display around my classroom!
It’s hard for me to believe that another class trip to Washington D.C. is behind us. This was my 5th time visiting our nation’s capital with our 8th graders. Every year, our agenda is quite similar, but there is always something new to learn or somewhere new to explore. Above are some of the highlights from our week, including photo ops outside the White House, The National Cathedral, Museum of Natural History, MLK Memorial, Vietnam Veterans’ Women’s Memorial (Faith, Hope and Love), as well as a ghost tour of Alexandria, Virginia; we also explored the grounds of George Washington’s home in Mt. Vernon, as well as took in the sights of the Air and Space Museum, Museum of American History, as well as the Holocaust Museum. On our last night, students attended a formal dinner/dance, and competed in a friendly competition of Jeopardy. One of our favorite memories as we awaited our flight home was running into Santa!
At the end of the semester, students are required to complete surveys for each course that they take. This is my favorite feedback that I received; I only wish I knew who wrote it so I could personally thank the student as it really touched me how kindly this student expressed gratitude for me and my course.
“I love Ms. Young’s class so much. She is so positive, up lifting, and constantly joyful and jubilant in everything she does. The books she picks are great, powerful, and meaningful books that show us real world problems and real things to discuss that happen in our everyday world. Talking about WW2 in Unbroken is much more important than knowing how a immigrant lost his sister in Afghanistan (Shooting Kabul, Grade 7). Romeo and Juliet went down the roots of Shakespeare and how his literary work changed the world forever, and before Ms. Young taught us how to kind of decode the writing we didn’t understand. She comes into class excited and ready for the day with all of her material and plans. She is able to change her plans for the benefit of the classroom and the students. Overall, Ms. Young is a great teacher who understands her students’ needs and desires to learn. She has an immense amount of knowledge that she applies to every aspect of the classroom and is such a great role model for coming in no matter what, sick or sad, being the most positive person in the MSAB.”
I decided to offer more student voice and choice to our annual Romeo and Juliet performance task offerings this year. What I discovered was that it was a win-win situation for students and teacher alike!
- Students were more engaged because there were so many options from which to choose (as opposed to years past when every student completed a body biography and scene performance)
- The class presentations had greater variety (which made for a more engaging experience for the whole class), and
- “Grading” the projects was a cinch because I assessed steps of the projects along the way, offered feedback before final submission, allowing students to tweak their final product, and was better able to assess mindset indicators while they worked
Here are some examples of my favorite submissions as well as photos from presentation day!
I love Improvisation! In fact, improv brings back memories from my early twenties when I took some classes at Chicago’s famed Improv Olympic, home of many great SNL comedians like Jim Belushi, Chris Farley, Stephen Colbert and Amy Poehler, so when I took an Improv workshop at the Greater Presbytery’s Middle School retreat this past weekend, I was challenged to think of Improv in a new light. At our retreat, “Created to Create,” we reflected on how we can use our God-given gifts to connect with God, with each other, and with the world. All of the “Yes, and-ing” that I learned in my earlier improv days, the “never deny your partner” and “do something with purpose” mantras all resonated with me, but it was only with fresh eyes that I was able to see how these same philosophies so closely align with Christ’s teachings. How often (and easily) do we as parents, teachers, and coaches crush our children’s and student’s ideas and dreams? How frequently do we deny our kids’ abilities to be their own decision-makers? How many times have we done something without purpose? My goal going forward is to say “yes, and” more frequently, to stop denying the cast of characters in my life, and to do all things with greater purpose.
After implementing the lesson I designed after I attended the IBL Workshop on Tuesday, these are my observations:
- Everyone has a role (therefore they are working at the highest level of cognition)
- Students are delving deeper into the text (most likely due to the fact that they all have a role to play)
- Students who often sit quietly during whole group performance/discussions are readily taking part/contributing to their small group discussion (perhaps because they feel more comfortable sharing in a smaller group
This is a sample of one group’s submission. This chart exceeded expectations because it captured every element assigned in a creative format: