Reflection: Data Analysis Environmental Presentations & Interrogating Plath's "Mirror" - Section 2: Student Presentations


When I built this assignment, I had this dream that my students would read Rachel Carson and be in awe of her passion.  Then, they would watch the videos with the government telling people that DDT was entirely appalled at the decision to spray a horrible chemical on pools of children to demonstrate the "safety"...and be offended that scientists for the chemical companies attach Carson so personally with untruths and speculations.  I imagined them choosing their own topics, then delving into the research.  I dreamed that they would have similar outrage when they explored these topics and that they would present these topics with passion at the injustice of it all!

So what happened?

The complete opposite.  While they WERE offended by the video and horrified that the government told people that it was safe (even though they knew better), they did NOT apply that same logic to their own topics.  They couldn't believe the people in the video would just blindly follow what the government said, but about 75% (legitimate statistic...I was so sickened, I started keeping track!) said that they weren't worried about their issue "because the government said it was okay" or "thought it was safe" or even "have never come out and said it wasn't safe."  Even more horrifying than that, students were completely flippant about issues that they perceived as not effecting them right this very second.  Bees are vanishing?  That's okay!  We hate bees!  (I almost died.)  

Speaking-wise, they did well with this assignment.  Human-wise, this was an epic fail.  I ended this period depressed about the future and the capacity for empathy and advocacy in my students.  I won't EVER do this assignment again--not because it didn't work to practice and apply Common Core skills, but because it literally hurt my heart to watch my students' apathy.

How painful.  

  Where Has All the Activism Gone? Over 90% "Didn't Care" or "Weren't Concerned"
  Data Analysis: Where Has All the Activism Gone? Over 90% "Didn't Care" or "Weren't Concerned"
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Environmental Presentations & Interrogating Plath's "Mirror"

Unit 10: A Brief Introduction to Post-Modernism
Lesson 2 of 5

Objective: SWBAT present the findings from their Environmental Research tasks, framing in a way that appeals to the audience, intuits their background knowledge, & utilizes information from credible sources.

Big Idea: After spending an hour listening to reports about environmental devastation, taking a peek into Sylvia Plath's life is an exciting reprieve!

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