For the past two weeks, my sophomores have been creating speeches about what it means to be a learner versus someone who plays the game of school.
I poured hours into this assignment, and was so excited to see what they would do with it.
While a few students hooked into it, so many students were creating carbon copy speeches of my example.
I was disappointed. We'd read through numerous articles that approached this topic from different angles. I'd created a Flipgrid response where several adults reflected on how the way they interacted with their high school education has impacted their adult life. I gave my own personal testimony, and we reflected in our journals every single day.
So, after giving a great deal of feedback, I tried again with a more straightforward approach.
I took an example paper from last trimester that looked a whole lot like so many of the papers I was seeing.
This group likes to critique, and they're pretty awesome at it.
"This falls flat at the end, like the writer just kind of gave up and repeated himself."
"The arguments feel generic. Actually, it looks kind of like my paper."
Small group conversations focused largely on these two ideas. I explained that while this paper technically meets the requirements of the assignment, the student isn't really taking advantage of this opportunity to reflect and to understand something about themselves. Therefore, it's not all that interesting to read.
Something seemed to shift, and when workshop time started, hands were up calling for my attention. I was worried that students would be asking me to create their papers for them after realizing that what they'd created needed quite a bit of work.
I really shouldn't assume. They keep surprising me. Their questions were direct and specific. They didn't need me to reiterate everything I'd explained minutes before. They were applying, and just needed guidance with specific aspects of their piece.
I am pooped, but pretty excited to see how these pieces of writing develop