Teambuilding Day at Open Grounds!

Special thanks to the team at OpenGrounds for allowing us to use their space, as well as being a funding source for the class this year!

Our class has spent a lot of time getting to know each other as individuals and thinking about how the world sees each of us, whether it be because of our ascribed identity or collective identity. As we close out September we will begin thinking about how to build our connections as members of a team so that we can collaborate to create change as citizens.

We will start by recognizing the differences between us as individuals by taking 2 different personality tests. The first one is from a more Western understanding of personality, and the other follows traditional Chinese understandings of personality. Then, we will take a Leadership quiz so students can think about how they can act as leaders and how this relates to their personality. Students should take screen shots of all of their results so that they can document and reflect more fully on them in a post using React, Reflect, Respond  or the 3R method.

We ask that students “React” to the concept of personality and leadership quizzes. In the first paragraph, you will describe the experience and how/what it make you think, feel, consider. You will then write a paragraph to”Reflect” on why you thought, felt, and/or acted the way you did. Finally you will “Respond” by discussing what action you might take (or have already taken) moving forward.

As a class, we ask ourselves what the differences there are between the three tests and whether there are ways that these tests are the same, as well as think about how these can all affect how we work together. Then we will think more about our group dynamic by hearing about ways that personality can negatively impact groups.

Each student and group will then create their own set of personality and/or leadership types, and think about their own strengths and weaknesses as individuals and within the group and plan ways to potentially overcome these obstacles moving forward.

If we have time we will preview the different types of citizenship there are:

Citizenship typology

Classroom Reality Check

There comes a point in every school year where I find it important to come together as a class to discuss expectations. Especially in a class that has as much wonderful diversity as ours, the reality is there can be a really wide variety of experiences academically, socially & environmentally that all contribute to differences in how much work students can do.

So then the question becomes, how do we as a class have realistic expectations so that students don’t feel overwhelmed or bored? How do I honor the challenges that some students face without letting students take advantage of the democratic classroom structure and empathetic teachers?

My solution is to have an in-depth discussion during class to set goals, rules and penalties for completing work. Then we create  academic success plans for every student and their situation. Each student can make their own copy of the document, and fill it in accordingly. Though many have expressed concerns to me about the amount of time this takes, putting the time in on this issue at the beginning of the year makes the class work better in the long run. We also create some options for what people can do instead if they feel unable to complete work and how groups can maximize on member strengths so that everyone does there part. Looking forward to engaging in this incredible class-building exercise!

Thinking more deeply about citizenship identity

We have been thinking a lot about the impacts of ethnicity on education in class by watching at Precious Knowledge; this week we are moving to think more about the concept of citizenship and belonging being impacted by ethnicity because of ascribed identity.  As this week will be the anniversary of 9/11, this Ascribed Identity Lesson Plan evolved from The Power of the Story: The Voice of Witness Teacher’s Guide to Oral History and our university students.  The goal is to build a sense of the impact that people’s presumptions about identity can have on other people’s sense of belonging and citizenship. Reading bell hooks’ belonging: a culture of place reminds me that the sense of belonging can be an entitlement; can citizens who don’t feel like they belong and aren’t treated like they belong experience the full expression of their rights?

The Identity Box worksheet was created to go along with this lesson. I used excerpts from Patriot Acts, a book in the Voices of Witness series because they tell stories that we don’t often hear about 9/11 that were collected using oral history.  We hope that students learn more about history as a living entity that has myriad perspectives from techniques like oral history.  As teens in New York, Adama’s story is about one 16-year old Muslim girl and Gurwinder’s Story is about a 19-year old Sikh boy.  Looking forward to comments from the class about how this lesson worked!  Let me know if you think there is anything that could be improved in the future.

Following up on Precious Knowledge

As always, Precious Knowledge, is a great film to watch with the class. This year, we are going to use the film to help set up the first research project for the students, as well as introduce some critical literacy skills.

Over the summer, The Atlantic, released an article on the impact the struggles of Tucson United School District had on ethnic studies programs across the nation. Students read the article in small groups and used this form to begin to analyze the article. We really want to model the act of critical literacy so that ALL students are able to recognize their ability to critique information.

After this activity, the students will be getting into small groups to launch their first group webquest mini-research project.  The students will go to this site to learn more about some of the issues in Precious Knowledge. Then they will form groups and fill out this worksheet together before deciding which issue they would like to do further research on.

Once they select which issue they want to focus on from the list of options on PBS’s website, they will be able to think through and create a a research topic and question ready.They will then use this Mini Research Plan Project rubric to create projects. This rubric is intentionally broad, we are interested in seeing what our talented and creative students come up with!