I'm slicing with the Two Writing Teachers community today. It's always a pleasure to read what everyone writes about their lives.
When I taught, the search continued to find ways to use the students' individually chosen topics in authentic ways. The topics varied, and often research had to happen first so that the student could find a direction that would be something of interest, something that will help the community, or one group. For example, one student who studied child psychology gave a series of lectures about the stages of emotional development to her classmates and to other older classes, to help them understand their own growth. Imagine the kind of learning she had to do in order to deliver something of interest and something helpful to her classmates! Another student began studying cartooning, and developed a number of key characters in a four-cell strip. He copied and distributed these to every student in the school, and began a dialogue with the classes of students as his audience. He asked what they thought of the drawings, the content, the characters. And he asked for ideas they would like to see. I guess you see where I'm heading, that learning through a topic of passion and finding ways that one can learn by offering something of value is meaningful both to the learner and the recipients of that learning. One final example involved those in the class who wanted to learn how to start a business. A group who volunteered helped set up a used bookstore in the school, found a place to house the books, advertised for 'gently used' books, set prices and store hours, and managed the inventory. It was a wonderful opportunity for those who loved the idea of being business entrepreneurs.
This weekend my daughter and son-in-law gave a pumpkin carving party for mostly neighborhood friends and their children.They found old worn out trophies and spray-painted them orange. They found a few neighbors without children to serve as judges, offered lots of treats, and the party happened! Here are a few pics of the results, and one picture of Ingrid with the judges. She opted to be one of the judges instead of entering the contest, created a jack o'lantern for a "model" and set the categories ahead of time. They were categories like "most creative", "funniest", "scariest" and a few others. As the pumpkins were completed, she gave them a number and took notes in her journal. When the other judges arrived, she was ready to share what she knew already, and to take notes for them as they all decided on prizes. She loved being part of this group, contributed as she could, and I believe felt very empowered as part of the group. FYI- she read to the adult judges the winners' names so they could hand out the trophies!
The learning: creating the categories meant a lot of thinking and discussion with her parents, and organizing the pages for each one was the next step. Then she had to determine what might be looked for in a "great jack o'lantern"-more thoughtful adjectives! As each jack o'lantern was finished, she gave it a number as you see in the pictures. Finally, she had to interact with the adults and help them judge, then take notes to be ready for the awards. She loved it all, and learned a lot! Is this authentic learning? You bet!
|Ingrid with the other judges, taking notes!|
I didn't get a picture of them all. Some were also displayed on a piece of wood on the ground.