Joy Kirr is a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. Her 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of their learning experiences... Want to have her speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is Joy's PORTFOLIO.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Another week goes by...

Today, I'd say, was mostly successful. There are still come kinks to work out, but I believe we're making progress.

The reasons why I think we're making progress... We now have a set day to have our hour for independent reading. (Still not calling it Genius Hour until next year). Another boon - we were able to Skype again with Mrs. Smith during my 5/6 block - she helped two girls narrow their Holocaust search down, and gave them great websites instead of the videos they were watching! It's so great to have her in our class, even if she's not here in person! And one more thing - three students in my 8/9 block want to present soon! It's about time! They think they have something other students would want to know! Students were also helping each other out, and encouraging them to read certain things (example: Dennis suggested Fallen Angels to Brennan when he asked for a "war book"). Things are running a bit smoother, but there are still some issues. These issues lead me to the following...

More of what I'll change for next year - 1. I need to make sure there is a question or a problem that is interesting to the entire class. For example, one student wants to present on Mohammad Ali - GREAT! But will that hold each student's interest? Or is it my job now to have him, somehow, make it relevant to everyone? 2. I need to give points for bringing reading materials to class - we do not have access to computers each Wednesday, and students should know to bring something to read. Enough of this "I need to go to the library" baloney. I have less than a handful of students who still don't want to read ANYthing, and will waste away the 40 minutes with various things they "have" to do. 3. The computers need to be used solely for blogging, research, or presentations. If I find a student on it for any other reason, I'm taking their privilege for the day away.

I know it's not all peaches and cream, and you can't please everyone all of the time, but I still like this process, and think we can really refine it next year when I have more structured expectations of outcomes. I'm excited to start it again next year, but I'm sure I still have a lot to learn the rest of this year!

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