I dislike whining.  It frustrates me.  I have found myself whining about the same problem for the past two years and I decided over the summer to do something about it.  So here is the attempt to address an issue I have been managing for the past two years: Apathy with 2nd semester seniors.

The Issue: Effectively engaging 2nd Semester seniors in their required courses for graduation. Specifically:

  • Attendance has been a problem.
  • Much of class time becomes work time because ‘home work’ time is soaked up by Math, College and Capstone
  • They seem to have lost the desire to engage in their learning in their required courses.

Potential Solution: Blended Classroom (as applied to Globalization)

  • Students attend in person 2-65 min. classes/week (the other bands will be chosen to limit the ‘down time’ in building… choosing bands at the beginning and ends of the day)
  • Students digitally participate in an online environment for the some of the other learning ‘requirements’
  • Students work with an outside partnership –
    • Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and local stories to meet the remainder of the learning requirements for the course.
    • Elections Project:  Students will attempt to make inroads with teens in a country where an election is occurring to tell election stories from around the world.
  • Group work will have online and in person requirements
  • In class time will be used predominantly for activities and discussion.
  • If a student falls below a C average, they will be required to attend class all 4 days to address the failure to meet expectations.
  • Time that is not in scheduled classes (the other 2-65 min. blocks) will be available for teacher to work one on one with students or in more focused groups that are working on independent projects.
  • Time that is not in scheduled classes (the other 2-65 min. blocks) will be available for the teacher to intervene with Capstone projects that are not progressing.

Anticipated Outcomes:

  • Increased responsibility for the student to manage their own learning
  • Develop a community based project that is collaborative with other classmates and community members
  • Better attendance on the days when class is in session
  • More effective use and participation in class discussion and activities
  • Dedicated time to work with the students who are struggling to graduate
  • Less senior apathy. I recognize that there will always be some, of course.

The plan is to meet full time the first two weeks and then drop down to two in class meetings a week (starting Feb. 21).  If students are not passing with a C or above they are required to come to all four classes for help in meeting class expectations.  B and D bands will not be in class on Wed/Fri if they are meeting expectations.

We started this today and one student commented that it was genius.  I’m not sure about that, I would just like to feel it is effective.

This is a pilot of an idea that, I feel, has real potential for the upper grades at SLA. Thoughts?  What do you see as possible (unintended) consequences for this approach?

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