Teaching is an Art

I spent today doing some planning, looking at the next few months, where we need to get, the work I hope to do with the kids and taking in their feedback and what they would like to do and came up with some ideas. I have loved that, in Alberta, we have had a curriculum that leaves us a lot of room to be responsive to our students needs. While it is super old and needing an update we can still do so many cool things. That is looking like it is in jeopardy as we are set to take steps back to the stone age of education. So while I can explore language and how we represent ideas I decided I wanted to explore some new things.

Spoken Word Poetry Competition

While i have students in 11th grade exploring topics that interest them I have had students writing and performing songs, podcasts and creating picture books. I have others researching and creating reports around types of truck engines, blogging about successful people and finally one student creating a poetry anthology. When that student was asked why she wanted to do this project she responded, “Teachers haven’t let me write poetry since you taught me in grade 8”. Now I am certain that is only sort of true but she continued, “It is just essay after essay so we are ready for the next test.” Yup… that checks out. So I asked a few other classes and they reported similar things. In a separate moment I was coming off the L of two separate interviews and feeling pretty worthless (that feeling has not left but that is for another blog post) when I sat down to read a students poem, see this student has a hard time with reading and writing but he has discovered poetry books and is reading them all. He asked if he could do his written responses as poetry because he he just “gets it”. As I read his draft I got to a moment where he wrote about how he could finally see himself as a writer and I cried. The power in that moment and that I got to be a part of it was just overwhelming with all the other things going on. SO in that moment I started asking who would be interested in a spoken word poetry competition a smash of some form. Hands in all classes shot up, kids in other classes heard about it and started asking if they could join or if I would read their work. It is a work in progress but it is coming.

Exploring Multimodal Projects

I am a new learner in this area but I have students wanting to explore their creative side more and more so we are jumping in. Multimodal work looks at the different “modes” in which we can employ to represent our thinking. Modes include Linguistic, Visual, Aural, Spacial and I think Gestural (still learning) not all modes are represented in every project but what I love is that it gives students a chance to explore, outside of the traditional box. I was on the instagram the other day and came across this fun idea

It looked like such a fun opportunity to explore multimodal work and gave me a fun idea. So this week we are going to explore multimodal work

Then we are going to use these tools to design our own magazine covers explaining our choices to our peers as part of the assignment. I just finished The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson and I made my own Magazine Cover as an example

With the looming shadow of regressive change on the horizon I want to make sure I take the time while I can to honour my students with work worthy of their brilliance. There is more to come. Fiction writing, making mini movies around genre, Project Speak 3 and a multigenre exploration in writing and representation to round out the year.

Teaching is an art just as much as the beautiful work our students create is. We owe them so much more than a curriculum that takes steps back. We owe them so much more than a curriculum that expects 8 year olds to discuss the silk road before they even understand their own country and communities. Our students, our kids are all excellent in their own ways and should be honoured with the work we do.

I hope I do that for my students.

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