Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Career Day: My Most Successful Writing Project #FirstYearTeacher

 On the last day before Spring Break, I went to school dressed as a wizard.

 Not just any kind of wizard. An auror. Dark wizard fighter.

 It was all part of a project my students completed on what they wanted to be when they grew up. They researched their career on iPads, wrote their findings on note cards, created an outline of their essays, conferenced with their rough drafts, and published a final research report.

 The research reports were really good. It was my class' most successful writing project, so I wanted to share it. When you're a first year teacher, completing a project with only ten percent of the students making below a 70 is a success. (That includes the students who just didn't turn it in. There was only six of those out of 125. No one who turned in an essay failed it, but I had a few in the 60s range.)

 I think the students responded to this writing project so enthusiastically for two reasons: choice and reward.

 While I was planning the project, I asked on the class Instagram account what the students wanted to write their research reports on. Two students responded, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Although that's a small response, the fact that they both had the same idea resonated. Even the students who didn't respond to my question still have the choice of deciding what career they wanted to research.

 Another reason I think they were so enthusiastic about the research report was the prospect of a party. We held a Career Day party on the last day of school before Spring Break. We all brought snacks, danced to the "Push It" radio station on Pandora, and listened to speeches from students on what they discovered during their research. I gave a prize to any student who volunteered.

 Oh, and we dressed up. Students dressed up like the career they chose and I dressed up like a wizard. Why was I a wizard, you might ask? I'm already what I want to be when I grow up -- a teacher. But if I had to choose a career besides my dream job, I would choose fighting bad wizards.

 And hearing your teacher model how to research, write a research report outline, create citations and a bibliography, and produce a final research report is way more entertaining when she's talking about fighting in wizard duels.

 The more engaging I make education for their teenagers, the more learning happens in the classroom.

 Follow me on Twitter.