Sunday, April 26, 2009

Iron Teach/Separte Peace by John Knowles

I am assuming that if you are reading my blog you are aware of the
Iron Teach Challenge issued by Michelle Bourgeois and Tom Woodward so I will not repeat the challenge.

As I sit down to start writing this I have to admit I feel a bit out of my element. I currently teach and have yet to teach anything above elementary age students. Also, until a couple of weeks ago, I could not remember ever hearing of the book Separate Peace. Still the main reason I feel out of my element is due to a weakness that is always with me and that is dyslexia. I do what I can to compensate and I utilize a ton of editors. However, I would be lying if I did not say that I worry that every time I put something out in written form it will illustrate more of my weakness than the content of what I have to say. Still I could not help myself, I was becoming more intrigued with this project upon reading each new blog post and Twitter comment to not get involved. It only took to the end of the second day of conversation on Iron Teach for me to have Separate Peace loaded on my iPod for me to listen to during my daily commute. Just figured at the very least I would be able to listen to a good book and if an idea or two popped into mind I would humbly share it.

Before getting into those ideas, there were a few general concepts about planning that I try to keep in mind when approaching a new project.

- Plans (activities) should be as interesting as they possibly can be. I really feel that learning should be fun and life is too short to spend too much of it being bored.

- Learning takes place in the process and I am not afraid learn and create with my students.

- That the students need to be producing at least twice as much material then I do. I feel that students learn by doing and that does not happen if I am preparing the lectures, presentations etc.

- I am aware of and have gone to some wonderful training of Blooms, State Standards, Kagan Strategies, differentiated instructions......., but I usually use those things to evaluate and readjust instruction rather to guide the plan from the beginning. I do believe this is just a personal preference of mine rather than some thing I would recommend to others. I am a global thinker so I usually look at things as a whole first and then look at the elements.

-Projects should be open ended enough that students have the freedom to be creative.

-Rubrics should guide students in producing quality work, aid educators in evaluating what is quality work, but not limit students' creativity.

Now for Separate Peace, I found it to be an interesting book full of tradition and the unsureness of the high school experience regardless of when you attended. In the challenge the two 10th grade classes were described as being willing to talk about their personal experiences. It was my thought that by focusing on making connections to the characters' high school experience that these students maybe more willing to interact with each other and the content. With that said, both my ideas are based around the setting of the Devon School and incorporated things common to the 10th graders of today.

1. “Reality” Radio Show with the characters from the book. Since there was no TV in the 1940’s we could have our characters living out their lives on the radio, much of like The Real World on MTV. Students would be required to write scripts as if they were the characters from the book. These characters would need to both interact with each other and also each character would be required to take a couple of sessions in the confessional (where they share their feelings and talk about others etc.). I also think it would be a great idea to have students take it one step further and create their own sound effects (and/or sound stage) to use while they were recording each episode much like those of the 1940’s.

Teacher's role in this project will be a guide and push students to really look at how each character's motives and insecurities lead to his actions.

Student Rubrics
Podcast Script Rubric
Podcast Recording Rubric

2. Have the students create a fake yearbook (or just a few sections) for the Devon School. There was such great details in the book of both the settings and activities these boys took part in. It would be fun to see what visuals the students could come up with. Along with adding a memorial page for Finny and superlatives would fun too. If you wanted to take that one step further you could have a copy of the yearbook printed and then have the students sign the yearbook as the characters of the book.

Teacher's role in this project is to be a guide in the process. By pushing students on their task of illustrating both the details from the book and the time period in which the the book took place.

Student Rubrics
Yearbook Rubric
- I did find this rubic on RubiStar. It was a big help due to my limited knowledge of yearbook editing.