Positive Creates, Negative Negates (Round 3)

6 weeks of school left + Statewide testing = lots of headaches and negative thoughts. Name one person who like statewide testing. Name one person who has something positive to say about statewide testing. It’s hard to stay positive when this test creates a negative feel in the air.

A testing day on Tuesday created a 2 hour delay schedule and a 30 minute class period for me. It was a perfect day to practice empathy. My 8th grade class went outside and we walked around campus as I did a walking lecture on the Trail of Tears. It was great as the experience (cold weather) added authenticity to the conversation. Before this lesson we just wrapped up a lesson on Andrew Jackson.

Wednesday rolls around after our Trail of Tears lesson, and we analyzed 3 perspectives on why people supported the Indian Removal Policy. Before we read each perspective, I had the students make a prediction. Our first perspective was Andrew Jackson, and I asked, “What do you predict Jackson will say about indian removal?”…………………..crickets and blank stares followed. I was livid.

I’ll admit, I blew up. Looking back I should have changed my tone. After all, it is testing week and their brains are done after that test. As always I stepped back and reminded myself of 3 positives from this week:

  1. I wrapped up a loooooooong Middle Ages blogging project. I had the students reflect and give me feedback. Some of the feedback was constructive and great. Overall, the students had fun with the project and enjoyed the different lessons I put together. They especially enjoyed the simulations with the Crusades, the Black Death, and the my dress up days.
  2. I have a student that isn’t getting much out of my class. I did what most teachers would not – I threw out the standards and typical lessons and I asked him, “What do you want to learn? I know you like cars and engines, what sounds good to you?” We talked for a bit, and I asked him to tell me how an engine worked………..I still don’t know how it works. He even called me out on that (that’s when I realized that this is probably how he feels when I discuss history topics). Finally,  I suggested he learn about the impact of the steam engine. He ran with it, and I have never been more impressed. On his own, he created a steam engine out of lego’s, he’s using Flipgrid to discuss how it works, and he’s creating a poster on the impact of the steam engine. Trust students, find out their passions, and give them a voice!
  3. I started a new project with 7th graders on the Renaissance. I asked them a question, “Who is the most important person of the Renaissance?” They got into groups of 2 or 3 and I told them this project is completely driven by them. They started looking at the Renaissance, people in the Renaissance, and came up with a person. I had several groups go out of their way to find people not on my “suggested” list of Renaissance people. For example, one group found a Renaissance woman who was considered the first feminist. I love this creative, empowered thinking!

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