Saturday, October 5, 2013

Lucky Woman

Traveling on I-90E with my husband, I feel pretty lucky. Friends offered us a pair of tickets to the Red Sox playoff game against the TB Rays.  My students know about my love of the Sox, so I know they can appreciate what a cool surprise this is for me.  It was totally unexpected in a weekend that I had planned to be fairly mundane. My to- do list included laundry, the grocery store and washing windows. But here I am on my way to Fenway.

This lucky feeling was an extension to the luck I have been feeling with my students this year. They have been working hard and their enthusiasm and participation has assured me that engaging them first to determine what they are interested in was the right path to take.  

We are on our way with our first theme of the year: Future. This theme was developed by the kids among four others and then voted on. Each student is crafting an Essential Question for what they would like to explore in this theme. Meanwhile, using the curriculum that I must follow, I am choosing texts, lessons and activities to support them in their work.  

The success of this approach, known as Curriclum Integration, is dependent upon one very important thing: my students. Without their support and willingness to go on this ride with me, I would have had to abandon this experiment early in our time together.  But they show up each day, sometimes with an air of confusion that I am actually interested in what they are curious about, and think, talk, listen and write in order to move us along on our journey into the Future.

Pretty darn lucky.

As if this wasn't enough, they are also blogging. This too they have taken up with great gusto. Their initial posts are going from sounding like what they think I want to hear, to developing into their own voices as they choose what to write. I have told them, "You are the boss of your blog."  It has taken some time for them to trust that I actually mean it. Just yesterday as I gave them their second blog post deadline, I fielded the question of, "What can I write about?"  I reiterated my usual reply, but it was chorused with other students echoing, "Whatever you want . . . you are the boss."

I also have been asked multiple times if they are allowed to write when they want or should they wait for me to tell them.  I am always troubled by this one because I think it shows the current culture of schools. Don't think for yourself. Only answer what you are being asked.  Choose A, B, C, or D.  

I react to this question with lots if excitement and tell them to do what bloggers do.  Write as soon as an idea strikes you.  Don't wait. 

And now I can share with them about the time I wrote a post via my phone on my way to Boston.  Pretty darn lucky.