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.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Create Your Own Class

Thank you, John Spencer.


The "quest" we were supposed to begin today was not ready... long story there. The back up plan was to show John Spencer's video and try it out! When he published this video, I noticed it would be great to spur ideas for Genius Hour. Why not try it today? We hadn't done any "creative" work since Halloween. The kids were ready to try it with me.

Here's how it went...
     I can finally say this - EVERY student was engaged in this activity. I don't know if I've ever had a day where EVERY student wanted to participate with such... gumption!
     Students had three choices, and could choose more than one idea - 1) Create a class, writing about the questions John asked in the video. 2) Create a map/layout of the class, with furniture, materials, decorations, etc., including the questions John asked in the video. 3) Write a proposal for this class, convincing school administration to start this class.
     Students could work by themselves, with a partner, of a group or three.
     They had no budget - they could purchase or access anything.
     There were so many ideas shared and appreciated.
     My last class experimented with Explain Everything (instead of the whiteboard tables or paper) and projecting it to the class computer using Air Server. (So the iPads we had for the tech that didn't work were still used in a great way! PLEASE let me keep this cart in room 239!)

Some great quotes we overheard (and could take some time to save...):
You can work on the first floor, and I’ll work on the loft.

We’re having a hobbies room.
Let’s make a Pinterest corner!
We’re going to work on our own first, and then collaborate.
You have to grow a mustache to go in that room.
We need an invention room.
Our map is done!
Oooh! Erase that - I have an idea.
I’m so gullible! My friend made me think there was a live chicken running down the street.
This is going to be the arena.
There’s a self-defense class for the kangaroos (in Australia).
This is for kids that have superpowers that can’t control them. (On the Samoan Islands.)
This is so awesome.
We need something else here.
Oooh! It's 3D! That's cool!
Making hammocks and starting fires… Survival skills!
You can pet a snake!
Check out the pets from different habitats.
There needs to be a front entrance.
Our main goal is to help everyone appreciate what's around them in nature.
I want the class to be about what we actually NEED to know in life.

Kids "ooohed" when they saw this 3D version.
Elaborate school for sports enthusiasts
He said he'd bring in experts to help instruct, as well.
This next one is for those "kids who just can't control their super powers..." This is the school on the Samoan Islands... More was added later, and you can't see it because of the glare, but the "flying room" is on the right.

Additional highlights...
Our normally very quiet girls explained their nature environment with such verve and volume!
One student created her classroom on a website that made it 3-dimensional!
A couple of groups were empathetic and really thought of others in their plans.
When students share their ideas, we all win.
Of course, none of this was graded.

Click Here --> Archive of student ideas from today.

Update 12/7/15 - Carla Dunavan created a Google presentation to help her students with this idea!

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