Creating a Community

by lclarcq on October 13th, 2017

filed under Archived Posts 2017, Creating Stories, Engagement, Relationships

I had planned this as a listening activity….but it took on a life of its own! We had asked a story the day before using some phrases from the song Hoy Es Domingo sung by Diego Torres and Ruben Blades. (Check it out if you aren’t familiar with it!)

Phrases I wanted to include were:

It was Sunday.
S/he was in bed.
S/he wanted to sleep.

Each of the three Level 2 had co-created a great story the Thursday before and I wanted to go back and review the story on Monday.

My classes are good-sized: 30-34 students and I often feel like I am herding cats trying to keep us all together going the same direction at the same time. This was a total experiment, but I loved the result!

I divided the class into four groups. Each group had 1/2 of a large white board (I have two large boards, on opposite sides of the room) They arranged their chairs (we are deskless) in a semi-circle around their particular white board section.

I had drawn a grid of 16 squares on each white board and numbered them. One student went to the board in each group. I read the first sentence from the story out loud, in Spanish, and the author had THIRTY seconds to sketch that sentence in box #1. ONLY 30 SECONDS! The group was allowed to help with meaning and ideas for the sketch. ( Rules: No criticism of artwork or interpretation allowed. Suggestions welcome. English allowed…these were middle schoolers at the beginning of level 2) )We all applauded the artists and the next student went to the board.

My plan was to go until it fell apart. (Did you ever do that with a new activity?!!) But it never did! It just kept building momentum!

What I observed:

BONDING BONDING and more BONDING! These classes are a mixture of 7th and 8th graders with a 6th grader or two mixed in. The school has nearly 1000 students. They just don’t know each other outside of my class and they really got a chance to work with new people and connect. The rules kept great artists from getting frustrated and instead made them the expert with helpful suggestions and ideas. The students that weren’t as comfortable with the language had the support of the stronger students in the group. The kids who had no confidence in their artwork had the support of their group’s ideas.

GREATER COMPREHENSION! We revisited the story with the drawing and then, we used the drawings for several follow up activities! Each time my slower processing students understood the story with more detail and my faster processors were not bored in the least. Their own artwork was intriguing!

LAUGHTER! The fact that they only had 30 seconds to draw created just enough tension to lessen the pressure for perfection. In each group (without prompting from me1) one artist added a funny detail to the picture. It might have been a funny haircut on a stick figure or a facial expression etc. Then every artist afterwards continued to use it. It started a series of laughter among students who really hadn’t known each other well.

OWNERSHIP! Each group was very proud of their ‘creation” and posed for pictures with their artwork. (These are on the school device and I’ll upload them soon!)

I’ll follow up in the next post with our follow up activities!
with love,

Power: Reflections on CIMidwest 17

by lclarcq on October 12th, 2017

filed under Archived Posts 2017, Relationships, Workshop Reflections

I’m a little behind schedule, but with a few minutes this morning in Maine, I want to share my thoughts on the CIMidwest 17 conference.

It was powerful.

Power was core of this conference.

Now, technically, the theme of the conference was Equity. But by the time the weekend was over, for me, it was about Power.

Bob Patrick was the keynote speaker and his speech may have been the best keynote I’ve heard. Bob is a great thinker, a thoughtful writer, and a gifted speaker. His speech felt like a close personal story. He spoke about his journey as an individual and as a teacher (they really aren’t separate journeys.) I took fervent notes and here are a few of Bob’s “quotes” that truly spoke to me:

“Building human relationships is the most important work that we do.”

“The most important element of any hour that we teach, is the people in the room.”

“Comprehensible, Compelling, Caring”

“Noticing matters.”

“Who is NOT in your room…and why not?”

“Use your students’ questions as a portal to make meaning.”

“What if my last nerve is really my next best opportunity to connect?”

And it all came down to the Power we each have to change lives.
And if we acknowledge that Power.
And how we understand that Power.
And how that Power becomes a lens through which we see the world….and our students.
And how we use that Power.
And how that affects the Power that our students do, or do not, have.

Because in the end, the type of Power and amount of Power an individual has impacts his/her ability to be “equal” to others. No Power = No equality. More Power = More privilege.

It was meant to make us ask ourselves questions and to reflect on how our thoughts, our feelings and our actions affect our students and their ability to harness and use Power.

It did.

And we carried those questions and continued those reflections throughout the day, with each session that we attended.

The organizers had invited presenters and had scheduled presentations knowing that each had something to offer that would help teachers to continue their questioning and thinking WHILE AT THE SAME TIME, acquiring skills and developing strategies.

Beautifully done.

Next year’s CI Midwest Conference will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on September 29. Theme to be announced, but it promises to be another well-organized, thoughtful AND useful opportunity!

with love,