So I just finished my first week with my Make Writing class. This class, as I’ve written about in the past, is intended to help those long-term EL students who have become disengaged with school and with learning. These kids are always stuck in the drill-and-kill courses, and we thought that one way to address their needs might be to focus on engagement and advocacy as a means to jack up the rigor generally asked of these students. So we’ve given them access to the 3d Printers and to Project Based Learning. In addition, these students all agreed to begin their Language Arts class early so we’ve selected a number of summer days to get us going prior to the official start of the new school year.
Many people have been asking how Making (a seemingly STEM-oriented activity) can relate to literacy and writing. I’ve shared a lesson before that’s proven interesting to people, so I thought I’d also share a few of the lessons we’ve been doing this week to communicate a little about what a two-hour block looks like in the Make Writing summer classroom. The goal is to make learning how to read and write more concrete, more meaningful, and more hands-on.
TUESDAY, JUNE 14
The class met on Tuesday, and many of the students arrived early to grab a Chromebook and a bean bag chair. Here’s what we accomplished and some links to the lessons themselves:
Writing Journal #1 Assignment: The first journal entry asked them to listen to the opening song from Hamilton, reading the lyrics as they listened. Then, we read the liner notes from Lin-Manuel Miranda, found on Genius.com, and the students independently watched his performance for the president at an open poetry night at The White House. Then, the students answered the prompt: How do you connect to this song or to Hamilton himself? How is your story connected to that of this founding father?
THURSDAY, JUNE 16th
We met again on Thursday and tried to accomplish the following. It seemed to move slower today as I mistimed how long it would take them to sift through some of the resources. I am listing my plan here, but the reality was that we never got to I Am Malala. We’ll make that up next Tuesday and focus on that more next week instead. Here’s what the initial plan was:
“Around 1500 BCE, Egypt entered the era known as the New Kingdom. Kings such as Thutmose III expanded the Egyptian empire far up the Nile River into what is now Sudan, and into the Levant, that is, the coastal region at the eastern end of the Mediterranean. Teachers highlight Queen Hatshepsut (ca. 1479-1458 BCE) and King Ramses II, also known as Ramses the Great (1279-1212 BCE).”
5. We entered the MLA citation for Thingiverse and the CA History standards document into our “Research Library” page of our digital portfolio.
6. We had planned to read the first chapter of I Am Malala and fill out a summary reading log that would then get linked to the “Reading Log” page of their digital portfolios.
Writing Journal #2: We watched the OK Go! Rube Goldberg Machine.What was the main objective of the machine? I then asked students to count the steps it took to achieve that goal. (That took forever!) The prompt was: How can you pop a balloon in 10-15 steps? Hint: start with the last one and work your way backwards.
Next week we’ll be focusing on I Am Malala and summarizing our reading. I’ll post some more lessons and reflections as I go!