Activist Projects: Week 2

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I’m going to start by saying that week two was rough for us. It was the week before Spring Break, so my students were already restless. On top of that, my daughter got sick, so I missed that Monday and Tuesday. And, I had already scheduled a personal day for that Friday to take care of important personal business. So…our week two was rather a mess, and I only saw my students two days that week.


The good thing about this project is that it involves a lot of independent work. So even though I was out most of the week, I was still able to get us through without too many headaches.

Day 1: When I was doing a little exploratory research for this project, I came across the Youth Activism Project. There are a few different things I love about this resource, and one of them is the blog section. It features posts that showcase examples of student activism. So, I printed out copies of one of the posts, added five questions and a one-page response, and left these for my students to work on.

Days 2 and 5: So I had to find another way to engage my students while I was out, and for some reason, I didn’t think of showing a movie until a colleague suggested it. I had already decided I wanted my students to watch clips and TED talks on different types of activism, and I thought a movie would be a good addition to that. For this, I had my students watch The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, and what I really loved about this movie (well, one of the things I really loved about this movie) was that it showed a drastically different form of activism than what we had talked about so far. This movie allowed me to explain that activism– i.e. working to create change for ourselves, our communities, our societies– is sometimes born out of necessity above all else. This movie was so beautiful, and I actually had students going home to finish it because they couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

Days 3 and 4: I was actually in class on these days, so I had my students start on research–our school has a no tech policy with subs, which is why I didn’t have them start sooner. To help keep students on track, I had them fill out research logs that I would check at the end of each research day for a combined daily grade. Students are mostly using websites for resources because of the nature of this project, so we were able to do all of this within the comfort of our classroom.

At this point in the project, we are just trying to make sure we have the information we need to build a solid end product. I want students to be as familiar as possible with their topics, because I want them to be able to manipulate the information in creative ways.

For those of you who may be wondering, I always provide class time for them to get their work done. Many of them talk in class, I’m not going to lie, but I also have those who take advantage of the time to work. Our school has a relatively high low-income population, and I have several students who don’t have access to technology outside of the classroom. I also have many who work insane hours, take care of siblings, or over-commit to extra-curriculars, so I try to provide ample opportunities for them to work in class.

In terms of progress, it’s hard to say if I had any big victories or pitfalls this week. Perhaps the thing that stood out most was the adaptation taking place for some students. Because of the topics they have chosen and the nature of what they are trying to accomplish, we are having to adapt some of the end products to suit their needs…which I think is fantastic. This is such an individualized project. I even have one group of students that is hoping to be able to present their projects to the school for their end product. This is currently pending Principal approval, so I’ll update more on that particular project later.

I hope this week’s outline helped! I’ll be posting Week 3 next Wednesday. Until next time…

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