So I have to share what's been going in on my English 9 classes the past few days. My classroom has been alive, and students' energy for our current unit has been inspiring to me.
On Friday we started a unit on social action in my English 9 classes by brainstorming what issues were important to students--we had a nearly 45 minute long discussion in each class where all of the students participated either in the face to face discussion, or the online discussion that followed. It was great to hear what concerns they have....they're pretty insightful for 15 year olds!
We continued the unit today by listening to and examining the lyrics in a few songs of change--Where's The Love by the Black Eyed Peas, Testify by Rage Against The Machine, and Ani DiFranco's Subdivision was mentioned--but unfortunately, we ran out of time. The majority of my students ate this lesson up---they loved talking about what issues were raised in the songs. Their homework for tonight was to find a YouTube video of a song that has themes of social injustice, social change, activism, or issues that matter to them. I gave them about 5-10 minutes of class time to begin searching for a song---it was great watching them get so into the assignment. As they left the classroom, many of them were sharing song ideas. Tomorrow we'll listen to songs that students bring into class, and on Thursday students will begin watching Pay It Forward (it actually works out perfectly since I'll be gone from school for three days). My hope is that the songs and the movie will spark an idea for a project they want to tackle.
Next week we'll explore Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter From a Birmingham Jail. Once we are finished with that, we'll start working on their change projects. The project is pretty open-ended for now, but students will be required to choose an issue they're passionate about (encouraging students to stay in high school, respect, promoting literacy, encouraging parents to take an active role in their child's life, eliminating negative stereotypes of the skate park, and encouraging the community to offer more to teens are just a few issues students mentioned) and complete a project that either raises awareness about the issue OR takes action to move the issue forward. Then--together we'll plan a project display night similar to a good, old-fashioned science fair where students can show off their work to community members, teachers, and parents.
I really thought I'd have some resistance with this, but most of my students (there are always a few apathetic beings) are bonkers for this unit! I'm anxious to see what they produce and how they connect with Dr. King's piece.
I'll try to post more updates about this project later!