I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 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 my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Coach Your Class

I live eight houses away from one of the 8th grade P.E. teachers at our school, Kathy. We've been over to each other's houses many times since I moved to the neighborhood three years ago. She's heard about our Genius Hour, but most importantly, she's caught a little of the bug...

This summer, Kathy and I concocted a way to have students own their learning in P.E. class. She grappled with the idea, tweaked much of it, then felt like she could share it with her 8th grade comrade. He liked the idea, so they sprung it on the kids first quarter! Students may teach about a sport they love, something they practice outside of school, or present on nutrition or exercise. They are beginning their presentations this quarter, and I've been fortunate enough to be able to witness a few.

I thought I'd lay out what she did in this post, because she's not on Twitter and does not have a blog (they just seem to go hand in hand these days)...

   * setting up the projector for those students with a slide show presentation
   * trying to get kids to NOT rely on the Keynote/PowerPoint slides
   * giving up class time when it's not an ACTIVE presentation
   * giving up class time during a specific unit - they have limited days for each unit
   * SCHEDULING & RE-SCHEDULING - This is the big problem. Each 8th grader needs to be in health at a certain time. What if two students want to present together, but they have health different quarters? Rescheduling if a student is absent is another problem... I can only imagine how they struggle with this issue!

   See the rubric here. I'm not always a big fan of rubrics, but it's a huge step when two teachers can agree upon one! Feel free to copy and tweak as you please, of course.

Best news to date -
Today, a group of five 8th graders presented on bowling. Each had a script, access to the microphone (they presented in the large gym), bowling lanes, pins, and balls from the elementary school, and a large, very captive audience of two P.E. classes. Each had a subtopic: the history of the game, the ball, the rules, and the adaptations of bumpers and the ramp. What did they practice today? Oh, sure, they had to research the sport, write what they would say, and then show their part in front of the audience. But what did they demonstrate today in front of two classes of peers?

These students had never held a microphone before.
They had never spoken in front of so many people.
They had never taught anyone a formal lesson.

Here's the kicker - these particular students are in the Individualized Learning Program at our middle school.

I really enjoy seeing students share in a different way about their favorite sport or hobby, but today really takes the cake. To see the smiles on these five students' faces when the applause came for their turn was priceless. They are very fortunate their teachers decided to take on this type of learning.

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