Some comments before reading:
“We’re going to read all 300 pages?”
”That’s so boring.”
”It’s going to take a year.”
Some comments after reading:
”I can’t believe that’s the end.”
”What happens next?”
”That’s the first book I ever finished.”
I've been hesitant to do any projects with my class because of how they weren't held accountable in the past. When I first met them, it seemed that no one held them to a high standard. They did not value their education or try their best. It was almost like they needed someone to teach them how to "play the game" that is called school (insert post about those struggles here). However, lately I've seen them taking responsibility for their actions and making connections throughout our units! Because of this, I felt it was time to see if they could master the grace it takes to work with others. And what better way to test this out than by doing a science art project over the solar systems!
About the project
I stole the idea from Sarah Johnson. I broke my students into their Cabin Groups (we're reading Percy Jackson and each student is in a Cabin from the book), had them decide what planet they wanted to do, then had them pick out 2-3 colors of yarn to represent it. Seems pretty simple, right?!
When I get really excited about something new, I tend to forget to think it through. Like how could I forget that I have twenty 6th and 7th grade students. Twenty students who have never completed a project together and who thrive in organized chaos. Twenty students that potentially could get glue on every surface of our classroom before I could count to five.
Through the organized chaos, the glue encrusted classroom, and bits yarn strewn across the floor, my twenty students sure proved me wrong. There were no arguments or tantrums. No popped balloons or broken scissors. One student did decide to "collect DNA samples" of himself and proceeded to cut part of his hair off, but don't worry, that's a story for another day. All the yarn stayed inside the classroom and everything was cleaned up at the end!
Talk about a win!
They aren't quite finished yet but here are some pictures of their progress so far!
Scene: I’m juggling a total of 7 books in Barnes and Noble. I take a seat in the back next to two women. I apologize for hitting their table as I drop my books on my own table.
Barb’s friend: “Look Barb, she’s teaching Greek mythology.”
Barb: “Oh wow!”
Me: “Yeah, I’m trying to find more ways to extend the unit because they love it so much.”
Barb’s friend: “It’s good for them to hear about other cultures. What grade do you teach?”
Me: “6 and 7. I taught high school before this.”
Barb: “Oh wow. We were high school teachers for 30 years. Why did you move down?”
[Quick explanation about my last two schools and why I’m there]
Barb’s friend: “Oh wow. So how’s it going?”
Me: “Well.... [insert a long pause here in which I reflect on the fight, bullying, missing work, and parent meetings that happened today] I only cried in my car once today.
Barb’s friend: “Oh ok! Only once? You’re fine then. We always say prayers for middle school teachers.”