Reflection: "Trees for Democracy": One Women Can Change the World - Section 1: Let's Get Started: Culture Wheel Presentations Continue


The larger the class the more organizational challenges for project-based instruction. However I feel that I can't give this project up.  It really helps me understand my students and see how they see themselves in our community.  

Community is the foundation of my class.  I had one student claim that because she is white he has not culture.  What a cop out! She stood up and made her announcement and sat down. It was a sad excuse to not do the work.  I told her that not doing the presentation would result in a zero and told her to see me in conference.  

When she came to talk to me, we finally got to the root of the problem, she was afraid that her classmates would make fun of her.  The solution, she would come in before school and practice her presentation so I could give her some help before she had to speak in front of the class. 

Like I said before, I love this project.  I don't mind giving this student second chance.  I now know she is really concerned about how her peers see her and she is scared of public speaking.  Now I am in a position to help her grow in these areas.

So here is some of what I have seen so far, students share information on what really matters to them: family, religion, music, food, etc.  They get to see how much they really have in common and discover unique aspects of their peers.  They are funny--so much laughter.  Occasionally we cry. When one student said he was grateful for his nana (grandmother) who cares for him after his father died and his mother ran away, most of the class teared up. Another student taught us how to surf, we learned that one young man is a 4th generation Badger baseball player, and another kid cheers on his mom at the roller derby. The class demanded a field trip to check it out. 

This project builds the interpersonal connections necessary to establish a safe, productive, and trusting learning community. After this project, students are more willing to shift out of their comfort zone for group work.  Now they have a better understanding of who is in their class and they are willing to take a chance on someone who was a stranger six weeks ago.

  Presentations and Project Based Instruction
  Presentations and Project Based Instruction
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"Trees for Democracy": One Women Can Change the World

Unit 2: Identity and Culture: Identifying the Central Idea and Evaluating Evidence in Informational Texts
Lesson 9 of 11

Objective: SWBAT conduct pre-writing activities to prepare an argument to a support claim using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence by writing an in-class essay on “Trees for Democracy” by Wangari Matthai.

Big Idea: Students examine the Green Belt Movement's quest to change society and the environment through innovation.

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culture presentation
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