Sunday, April 24, 2016

It is SO good.

A lot to do this spring.  This post is mostly education.  More about fencing soon!

April break ends tomorrow and I can't wait!  I mean, I want more sunshine and spring time and raking the leaves time and mowing time and playing with the girls time.  But I get that.  It comes in longer afternoons and weekends and, soon enough, a summer break.

Tomorrow we get to roll out our final project for Modeling--our combined Math and Science class for 9th grade--and it's a doozy.  We ask each kid to fill out a detailed evaluation of all the standards they've had a chance to meet this year (and they have surely not all met all standards!).  That work, done well, will take our kids all of the first day back.  Then we ask them to create a project that will last them for the next seven weeks.  A self-designed experiment that will meet at least two of the standards--one math and one science--that remain to them.   Here are the standards with which we're working:

There are levels here too.  I'm in the process of making three off-the-shelf versions that need little or no revision for the members of our gang for whom executive function is still difficult.  A middle-of-the-road version with lots of leeway for alteration so that those of our students hungry for a particular kind of math or science can create a meaningful end to their 9th grade experience and pick up a standard or two as well.  And a highest-level version; still room for configuration to individual desires but with a focus on the Above Target work that some of our kids have been asking for.  A chance to put their studies where their mouths are.

This means, of course, that I'll have four vastly different content areas to support.  Even if a third of our kids take the off-the-shelf option there are still sixty students designing their own programs for the next seven weeks!  They will all need feedback, in detail, about both process AND content.  I'll need to schedule at least two mini-lessons on content focus areas each week for the rest of the year.  I'll need to communicate with the math and science teaching team--and the rest of the 9th grade team--a great deal to keep everything moving smoothly.  To keep it moving forward at all!

Lately I've been thinking of this job, and of teaching, as magecraft.  Not the deific gifts of a Gandalf or the carefully studied but almost quotidian work of a Potter or a Granger, but the true art and balance.  Like Ged, from Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea.  Worthy of all my focus and all my considerable talent--which will never be enough to do all the great work there is to do.

This is a vast and a difficult task but there is no part of this coming work that I dread; no part that empties my soul.  I am filled with this, called to it, drawn deeply into its mystery and complexity.

I should go on vacation more often.