If you have read previous posts from me, you understand how successful our ELA teacher has been with her Social Justice projects. You can look back at my previous posts here. Last year this project took place at the end of third quarter and into 4th quarter. This year we started the project early. We began by implementing our discussion groups again when we came back from Christmas break. We started off well and had some great conversations in our first couple of rounds with students.
One of our greatest challenges this year was creating engaging center activities for such a large class. This year’s group consisted of class sizes ranging from 25-30. Last year’s class was much smaller, and as such the group as a whole was easier to get focused on the tasks at hand and to create opportunities for discussion and peer critiques.
We made it through a couple rounds of activities and book clubs. We even watched our parallel movies that go along with the social justice topics of choice. The students were active in the discussions and were beginning to explore options relating to their book trailers as well as their own PSA projects when Coronavirus held the project hostage. We were unable to continue forward with much of the digital productions we had lined up for students which leaves a huge void in what would have been an amazing capstone project. Ms. Fry, however, has done an amazing job connecting with students digitally and I know she has encouraged them to think about the issue even though the entire experience has been placed just out of their reach.
More so, I am excited that we have had so much success over the last two years. This year, other teachers have found value in what Ms. Fry has put together and have begun the steps to implement similar structures as well. In 8th grade, Ms. Hinton had done a tremendous job in engaging her students in stories of heroism rather than social justice. Students began to explore what it means to be a hero, created a small scale biography project, and we're using the skills obtained to start to explore students making mini-documentaries about local history and local heroes. Unfortunately, due to the resources available to students, this project as well will have to be reserved for next year’s students.
The project also made its way into our special education department as well, in which the students there also began working towards a goal for both social justice as well as heroism. In preparation, we spent time expanding our levels for these students. Also, since the class sizes are much smaller, we also took the time to collect books on like topics so that we could have engaging book discussions in class from different perspectives but also gave students the freedom within those topics to choose books of interest. We were off to a great start prior to being sidelined.