Activist Projects: Week 3

So before I outline Week 3 for the activist projects, there are a couple of things I would like to talk about in regards to what’s been going on in my classroom.

First, I would like to take a moment to discuss something I’ve struggled with all year…the dreaded apathetical student. Despite giving abundant opportunities for choice, providing diverse mentor “texts”, and working alongside my students, I continue to struggle with this.

This week, I had a student ask me why we had to work on the projects. Why we couldn’t just have vocabulary tests, worksheets or quizzes. Another refused to do his annotated bibliography and has repeatedly expressed dislike for the project in his journal and in his attitude. These are only two examples, but I take the time to highlight them because, as excited as I am about this project, I don’t want you to think that I have achieved that perfect world scenario in my classroom.

I think so often, people only show the highlight reel on social media, giving us unrealistic expectations for our own lives. Which is why I try to level with you as often as I can…because I can assure you my classroom is FAR from perfect. More often than not, I feel like I am failing my students in multiple ways.

But then something happens, and I think maybe I’m where I’m supposed to be.

This week, I had something pretty incredible happen. A moment where students were doing exactly what I had hoped for when I began planning this project.

On Thursday, I received the following email:

This particular group of students has really impressed me. They have been enthusiastically involved since day 1, and they have shown a passion for the project that makes my heart sing.

A group of three, these students are raising awareness about rape culture. Each is personally invested in this topic, and they have agreed to work collaboratively to make something amazing happen. They are working to create a movement through a Twitter hashtag, and have also met with our principal in an effort to get approval for a school-wide presentation to educate students about rape. Another student has volunteered to work with them, and I have heard talk of their presentation throughout multiple class periods.

I have been so impressed with this group, and I really hope they keep their momentum throughout the six weeks. I’ve noticed that, while their enthusiasm is insane, their actual classwork hasn’t been up to par. I think they are so focused on the end result that they aren’t so invested in the baby steps…So, we will see where it goes. But for now, I am celebrating these students, and I can’t wait to see what they accomplish. They are the victory that makes this project a success, no matter what else may happen.

Now that you’ve had to sit through my rambling, here is the outline for Week 3…I hope you enjoy 🙂

Day 1: Students finished watching “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind”– I highly recommend this movie. Overall, I had very positive responses from students about this film.

Day2: I needed a test grade for progress reports, but I still wanted it to be something that tied back to research and project preparation. So, I decided to have students create an annotated bibliography as a formalized record of the research they had done so far. I uploaded an informational link and a sample from Purdue Owl to Google Classroom to show what, exactly, an annotated bibliography was. I also outlined the following criteria:

  • Bibliography must include five sources
  • these sources must be formatted into MLA citations
  • each citation must be accompanied with a 100 word annotation

Overall, I kept it pretty simple. My students had never done one of these before, and I didn’t want to overwhelm them.

Days 3-5: The rest of the week was spent gathering sources and working on the bibliographies, which were due on Day 5.

To show an example of art as activism, on Day 4 I showed students a clip from one of my favorite movies, Across the Universe. The clip I chose is linked here, and the great thing about this clip was that it allowed me to discuss the power of music and film to raise awareness or advocate for a cause.

This week was pretty simple. I want students to have autonomy and to take responsibility, so I am providing guidance and then stepping back and allowing them to work. This is an insane time of year for my students. It’s also “sick season” at the daycare, which means I’ve been out a lot. I mention this because life happens, for me and for my students, and this project is structured so that they can work with or without me.

Next week, we will be moving past research and into the actual project, so stay tuned.

Until then, have a great week!

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