Wednesday, March 5, 2008

How It All Started

The last 9 weeks of school is the hardest. I only have a few weeks before it is time for the state test. My and the student's anxiety is high as we focus on "the test". Most of this time is devoted to reviewing test taking strategies and reteaching any standards they still do not understand.

Once this test is done, there is still a month left of school. It is really difficult to keep the student's attention at this point. The summer rays shining through the classroom grabs everyone's attention. As a teacher, I want to prepare them for the year. As a student, I want to get on to summer fun. It is a hard battle. Often the one who endures is the one who wins.

Last year, I started a movie project in the second semester. All of my math courses (Algebra I and Geometry) had to answer the question, "How can you teach linear equations or principals of triangles in a way high school students could relate?" The students had to create a movie that would teach the math concepts. It was my biggest project attempt. There were some pitfalls but overall I had never seen the students more engaged. The filming took place during the last 9 weeks of school. It was the most pleasant nine weeks. I thought I was in heaven. The students actually wanted to come to school and stay after to film. They managed themselves and I looked on in amazement on why I hadn't did this sooner.

The success of the project made me want to do it again the following year. Unlike my first two years in teaching, I am now apart of a team. Students are assigned to one of three teams of core curriculum teachers. The students get to know each other and transition to high school life. As teachers, we share the same 90 minute planning period. We utilize this time to complete individual plans but to also discuss strategies as a team.

Today at our weekly team meeting, I shared with my colleagues my success with the movie project. I suggested we attempt to do a joint project with a possible product of a movie. The subject areas to cover include Algebra I, Geography, Environmental Science and English. The team agreed to jump on board. At the next meeting we are to discuss one or two standards from each curriculum area that students really need understand.

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