After attending NCTE and having the privilege to hear Jason Augustowski (@MisterAMisterA), I was eager to implement some of his ideas. In my Advanced ELA class we created four Class Departments, each taking responsibility for some aspect of our class and curriculum. I set due dates and gave them some time in class to plan.
We then were off of school for over a week due to snow AND unexpectedly required to give a standardized test. This messed up my entire schedule. Several times the dates for completed tasks were moved back.
Finally, the week arrived. All departments were to be ready. I took a peak at their web pages and was disappointed with what I saw. The first group to present was the Communications Department. They did not have their questions ready. Trying to stay calm, I gave them another day. The next day was our first Professional Development. I checked their web page first thing in the morning. Nothing was there. I felt quite down and decided I had misjudged my students’ maturity and ability to be that responsible. I had a Plan B in place but thought it would be best if I waited until speaking to the group first.
The students arrived. I asked the PD group whether they were ready. They replied, yes and went on to deliver a 40 minute lesson. I was absolutely blown away!!! One member explained that they had noticed a need with a text we were working with. The others began passing out “Post-Its” and referring to the standard that accompanied their lesson. They began by asking students something about their own life and then connecting that to the book. The lesson ended with predictions. One member of the group asked “probing questions,” so no one got off with a simple reply.
The Communications Department had their questions ready and went the next day. They worked as a group asking following up questions and text support. I was so proud!
Besides learning more about the texts, I believe the students learned about each other and what they were capable of. I realize that for the websites to be maintained they will need time in class, so I am opening up more it. “Wow! That’s just about all I can say is Wow!” (Borrowed line from Kevin Henke.)