Last year, I had my freshmen all focus on the question of what matters. I was really glad to have one question on which they could focus all semester. Every project, assignment, class discussion all came back to this question. I liked this idea so much I am trying it again but with some more tweaking and focus. I realized that my freshmen need more examples and not quite as much freedom as I give to my other classes. It seems like they need me to provide a little more structure than what I would like, but I am hoping that by providing more illustrations of a possible end result, that their understanding and connections with literature will increase so much more.
The first part of the What Matters project is a creative, visual illustration of what matters to them. They always seem to struggle with this question at first, asking me, "Well what do you mean what matters?" I simply respond with, " I don't know, what matters?" They, of course, are confused and perplexed. This year after going through the same conversation with them as my last year's 9th graders , I decided to create my own example of what matters. I think this gave them some better direction, but I still have my reservations. Many of their posts seemed similar to mine (I am not trying to be egocentric here). I am just having a difficult time trying to find the line between feeling like I am leading them to the answer I am looking for (i.e. my what matters example) and having them struggle to find their own understanding- what I feel like they should be looking for. I know that this is the beginning of a new year. I just need to keep myself focused on the idea of showing them the possibilities and providing the structure for them to come to their own understanding. I guess it is just one of those ho-hum moments.
I am feeling frustrated today; frustrated by the fact that after giving them many days to complete the What Matters visual project, many were not done. They just chose not to do it. Was it because it wasn't a meaningful project to them? Did the technology get in the way? What was the hold up? Well, I asked them...and their answers varied. They all liked the project, thought it was better than other assignments, but just chose not to finish it on time. What is happening to these kids? To totally digress for a moment, this is why I don't believe in giving kids extra time on assignments. What did they learn from turning it in late. NOTHING! In fact today, I had another assignment due where they were to look up and develop their own understanding of literary terms. About 1/3 of the class didn't even bother to do it. I couldn't believe it. Two days in a row, and even after we talked about getting things done on time, and they still couldn't finish the homework. Just rants from the trenches today.
But, to end on a positive note, please take a look at their visual what matters. Please, leave them comments and help them see the possibilities. Thanks!