Ii is the first day after the winter break. I ask the class about their holidays. I give students who may want to share an opportunity before I start the lesson. This brief activity is designed to redirect their attention from bemoaning the end of break to getting them focused on working as a collaborative group again in my classroom.
After everyone who needs to speak has said their peace, I welcome everyone to second semester and pose the following question: Is Tucson High a community? We move from Tucson High as a community to looking at the smaller groups that come together to make up the school community (SL.9-10.1).
Next, I ask, "What is Title IX and why is it important to our school community?" If no one knows what Title IX is, I give them a brief history and explain that prior to 1972 the opportunities for young women to compete in sports were limited. However Title IX states that in order for schools to receive federal money, they have to have equal access for participation for both men and women.
My rationale for discussing Title IX is to get the students thinking about equity and opportunity within a community. Sports and academic programs are activities they already understand. The discussion can focus on equity.
Following a discussion on high school and college sports, I ask them if they think that equity extends to professional sports. As an example, I show them a trailer for the documentary Half the Road, a film on women's professional cycling. The documentary was partially filmed in Tucson and features many on our local pro-cyclists.
Hopefully, by the end of the discussion, the students will be focused on class again after a long time away, and ready to move forward.
It is semester two day one. I want the students to bring their social and academic growth from first semester to second semester. It is not always an easy task. These kids have been sugared up since Halloween and now have hit the January holiday detox. It is time to build momentum for this semester.
The first part of the activity is a group reflection. The students have ten questions to discuss as a group. Next they have to design a presentation that shares their responses with the class.
Group cohesiveness is important to the overall management of my class. It has been just over two weeks since they have seen each other. This activity creates a discussion that allows students to reflect on their accomplishments and set goals for the next semester. Each student brings their own perspective and builds on the ideas of their peers (SL 9-10. 1).
I tell them they have 20 minutes to prepare their presentation on the group's responses to the questions. By having each group share their response, the rest of the class will get a sense of common ground and/or possibly hear something they had not considered. I have index cards and scrap paper available if they need something to use for presentation notes. I also give them a check sheet to demonstrate how they will be evaluated on this presentation. I keep my distance while they prepare, I only intervene if a student asks a question. I want them to be as independent as possible.
Before we start the presentations, I direct the students to look at the checklist, which is the second page of the semester two day one handout. This is the rubric I use for evaluating their presentations. But, I tell them that I will not be evaluating their presentations this time; instead, they will informally evaluate the presentations of their peers. Using the checklist as a guide, they will write scores for their peers and then give their peers feedback on how they can improve their presentation skills.
The evaluation actually has score points on it. I put the score points on there mainly as an exercise for the students to better understand how point values are assigned. I encourage them to use the topics under presentation style and content to formulate the feedback they give the presenters. I hope their feedback focuses on not only their speaking style (especially tone) but also the way they used evidence to support their claims (SL 9-10.4)
The last activity is the perfect example of writing on the spot. Students have to write a letter to me responding to the following prompt: What would you like to tell me about this class, school and/or yourself? Remember to be constructive in your criticism.
Before they begin writing, as a class we identify audience (me) and the appropriate tone for a letter that provides constructive criticism (formal, professional, etc.). In order to meet the criteria of the letter the students have to maintain a formal style and a tone appropriate to the audience (W 9-10. 2e). Focusing on using appropriate tone is the objective for this part of today's lesson, so I will be sure to spend a few minutes discussing what kind of tone students should use in a letter to a teacher versus a letter to a friend, etc.
When the students finish their letter, they can turn it into the tray or finish it for homework.
As the students finish up their letters, I point out the homework on the board: Define community. What communities do you belong to?
As an example, I go back to the trailer for Half the Road. I ask them why they think I picked this as an example for the class?
Most of the students know that I love cycling. I have one student who wants to be a professional cyclist. So the students can make the connection that I chose this trailer because it speaks to one of my communities.
As the students leave they can put their letter in the tray or ask any lingering questions.