Activist Projects: Weeks 4-6

This will be my last post for Activist Projects until their culmination. Our schedule for the next couple of weeks is basically the same, and I don’t want to bore you all by being repetitive.

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

I think at this point my students have mixed feelings about their projects. Some love it. Some hate it. Most of them are just ready for it to be over. The hard part about long term projects is maintaining momentum. And, with hectic schedules, STAAR tests approaching (which means late arrivals for my seniors), and 7 Mondays until the end of the year (yes, you heard me right!) I count myself lucky if they just show up and pretend to be productive.

I incorporated something new last week, in an effort to boost participation and engagement. It’s actually something I wish I would have incorporated from the beginning. I wanted students to be able to collaborate, even if they had me for different class periods, so I created a class blog with a discussion board. Students will earn extra credit if they check in regularly and work productively with at least one other person. I didn’t want to make it mandatory, because even in a 1:1 school, not all of my students have easy access to technology. I’m really hoping the lure of extra credit will motivate some of them to form collaborative partnerships where truly fantastic learning takes place.

In terms of student successes, I have a second group of kiddos who have really taken to this project. Four of my students, two who are Pro Life and two who are Pro Choice, have agreed to hold a debate for their final product. I’m really excited about this, because they’ve shown me that they are incredibly passionate about this topic, and I think it’s important that I give them a safe space to see both sides of the argument within an academic environment.

As far as losses go, I feel a lot of students simply aren’t utilizing the work days provided. Student-created action plans help, in a sense, because they create a system of accountability. But, what I’m finding is that many (though not all) goof off for four days, then throw something together so they can show me they’ve “made progress” by the end of the week. If any of you have successfully incorporated productive work days in your classroom, I would love to hear what you’re doing!

Below, you will see the schedule I posted on the board for my students this week. It’s short, sweet, and to the point:

  • Monday–Work day
  • Tuesday–Student Conferences
  • Wednesday–Student Conferences
  • Thursday–Work Day
  • Friday–Checkpoint Day

Because of everything that’s going on at this point in the year, this will be our schedule for the next couple of weeks.

I should add, we are actually in Week 5 at this point, and last week looked slightly different. On Monday and Tuesday, I provided students with time to fill in their action plans and figure out what their next 14-15 class days should look like. Because of the diversity of their final products, I needed some kind of accountability system, and I felt this was the best way to do that.

So far, with student conferences, they are being really vague about where they are in their projects. But, I’m hoping after Friday’s checkpoint, I can start taking those students who have something aside to workshop what they have so they’re ready for the deadline next Friday.

And that’s about it! If you’ve been following along, I really hope these weekly updates are helping. I’m super stoked to see what they turn in next Friday…I’ll be sure to check in once we have crossed the finish line.

Until next time!

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