OK. I'm dating myself here a little bit, but back in the 1970's when Gotham city needed Batman (aka Bruce Wayne, aka Adam West...yes, that Batman), all they had to do was turn on their trusty Bat Signal, and help came running. I'd been trying to describe what happened when I needed an outside perspective earlier this week. and for me, it was like turning on the Bat Signal.
I had been thinking about one of my English classes a lot this week, especially in light of some discussions I was a part of at EduCon this past weekend, worrying that the honeymoon period was ending. So, I turned to my networks. To my virtual network, I twittered this question:
"Thespian70: Network: What do you think? Would it work to go to a low level English class, juniors, American Literature and ask, 'What do you need from this class?"
Followed up by: "Some are college bound and some are work bound...very mixed bunch."
At the same time, I turned to my real network. I walked up the hall to talk with Kristie and Wes. The advice started to swoop in like a bat:
- lorisheldon @Thespian70 Don't know that age/ability group well, but would not hurt to ask, kids tend to take more ownership when involved in dec. making
- chrischampion @Thespian70 Or "Here's what we HAVE to do.... how do you want to do it?"
- CohenD @Thespian70 - your approach is exactly what one of my colleagues does with her juniors - open the semester with negotiations, contracts
From my building network, I received similar sentiments including some insights on individual students and thoughts on the approach I was thinking about. I even had one person eager to know how it worked out.
So, I ventured into class and sat the kids down for a talk. I'd looked at the curriculum and had broken it down into thirds: three main skills/areas I had to address during junior English. Then, the brainstorming began. My responses weren't all that surprising, and everyone will be able to satisfy their needs with some activities I had in mind plus I'm going to let them design some of their own activities. They've been really excited thus far when I've let them do that.
My Bat Signal on Tuesday really helped me think through a situation I was struggling with on a number of levels, and because of all the encouragement I received, I've ventured down a path I wouldn't have a few years ago. Thanks network! I'll turn the signal off for now.