The Common Core elevates the significance of speaking and listening activities to more than verbalizing an assignment. Students have to be able to present information that is logically organized, supported by evidence, and are appropriate to a purpose, audience and task (SL 9-10. 4). I also want students to feel a sense of ownership of their learning. By reflecting on their experiences and relating them to their goals, students can share with their peers and find commonalities that build community and embrace their diversity as a strength of that same community.
It is really difficult to go first especially when the presentation is supposed to cover your learning for an entire year. Oh and don't forget, you have to include how these experiences will help you reach your short and long term goals.
Those who volunteer for the first day are either absent on the day the class signs up for presentations or they just really love to be in front of an audience. The Celebration of Learning presentations have to include the student's academic outcomes for the year. Some students learn from mistakes as well as successes. They have to provide evidence to support their conclusions. This evidence can take a variety of forms from their progress reports to a medal they won as a member of the Tucson High mountain bike team. Regardless of how the students organize their presentation and evidence, they have to show how these experiences connect to their future goals.
On the second day I have to continue setting expectations (SL 9-10. 4 and 6). It takes some stamina to sit through five days of presentations. They are supposed to take notes on their peer's presentations. They can use these notes on their final exam which is an essay question that asks them to use evidence from the presentations to answer the year long essential question: Does culture shape the individual or does the individual shape culture?
One component of their presentation was to explore their community outside of school. Many students choose to connect the Celebration of Learning to their first presentation on aspects of culture and talk about how they have evolved since the beginning of the school year. One aspect that interested many of the students is nature.
This student has consistently incorporated her religion into all of her activities for this class. She is a Jehovah's Witness which is a minority religious community in a predominantly Catholic town. Her ability to share her beliefs and values has expanded the class's appreciation for the variety of religious beliefs that make up the Tucson Community.
As we roll into day three of presentations, I once again remind students to remember to use evidence and show connections between experiences and their goals (SL 9-10. 4).
Many of the students talk about how relationships have changed this year. These changes are both in their families and in their social groups at school. The advantage of attending a school with 3200 students is that there's always someone new to meet. There are also a tremendous number of extracurricular activities like cheerleading and soccer. These activities can be just as important to student achievement as their academic classes to a student's long term success.
One of my students is a member of the Tohono O'odham Nation. Her culture impacts her relationships. The story of The Man in the Maze shows how her heritage designs her world view and personal identity.
Today I focus my review on audience and credibility. Each day I try to pick an aspect of successful presentations and reinforce them with the class. As part of the presentations, one student incorporated digital media (SL 9-10. 2, 4, and 5) in his presentation about his options for the future. Students shy away from using technology because our school is undergoing a technology refresh. We never know if the computers will be up and running on any given day. Advanced students have a tendency to play it safe when it comes to their grades. However, troubles with technology and unpredictable changes in relationships are part of the circle of high school. Getting use to these changes is necessary as they grow up.
At this point most students are talking about going to college. They talk about what they know: The University of Arizona, literally across the street, or Pima Community College. Both schools are great options, however some students still don't know yet what their future will hold. They are willing to look beyond what they know and see everyday even though it scares them. One student speaks about consistency, confidence, and identity as the necessary elements of personal achievement.
It is the final day of presentations and some common factors are clear. Most students have achieved both academic growth and academic disappointment. Yet, they are willing to be accountable for success and not so successful outcomes. Most students have the short term goal to keep up my grades and see the connection between their grades and the future. One student discovers the intellectual side of journalism and marching band.
Other students really need experiences outside of school to teach them about leadership. Finally, our last presenter brought a giant blow up die. It is a roll of the dice that determines his talking points. The die represents all the unknowns about the future.
On this last day like everyday we could have many guests in the room. Some of these students are the younger siblings of my former students. My former students have a tendency to return for their siblings' presentations. The guests in the room really elevate the quality of the presentations. The students want to make the best impression on their individual guests as well as the guests of their peers. For these few days, our learning community grows and it means so much to the students to see how their hard work impacts people outside the class.
I prefer the guests to RSVP so I can let security know to expect people on campus. I also send a general email to the parents reminding them of school protocols for guests. So far, it has been nothing but a positive experience.