What If We Give Choices?

 

During the 4th quarter in 6th grade, summer is calling. After a long school day, many students play sports, practice instruments, meet with clubs, get outside, create new things, and hang out with friends. What about homework?

In Language Arts, students are expected to read each night and do a short independent practice assignment. I never assign homework on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Assignments are often posted on Monday for the week so if someone needs some flexibility, they can request it.

What if you have a choice? For the past two weeks, we are choosing what we want to do for homework as long as it’s related to our studies. We brainstormed a list of possible choices and then document what we do each day. At first, some people felt like having a choice was a bit overwhelming. As the first week progressed, more people began to realize that they were getting more work completed, they were enjoying the freedom of selecting an activity, and they felt a bit more relaxed about balancing the workload throughout the week.

Here are some slices of some of our reflections:

“Choice homework was a very different experience for me though in a positive manner. Each day forced me to ask myself: What do I need to do? What do I want to do? What will benefit me?”

“I loved choice homework because we could pick what we felt like doing. At least for me, it unlocked many different learning tools. Being able to choose something motivates people to actually do it.”

“When I do choice homework, it is a different, more free experience. Choosing what to do was the hardest part for me. I had to consider what was going to happen after school, what I would benefit from, and if I wanted to do that. Even though this is hard to weigh out, it proved to be very fun, interesting, and beneficial.”

“This also helped me really start reading and I advanced in the book. I also feel like I am older and I have more freedom. I really liked the experience.”

“I could work at my own pace and be more productive. I like these assignments because I had more flexibility to either change the homework or do more than was written.”

“I wrote a chapter each day for a book I started on Monday. I really enjoyed the nonspecificness of being able to choose homework assignments. I liked how a chapter could be anything. It was MY book and MY homework assignment. Some nights I would write my chapter first thing when I got home. On other nights, I would write before I went to bed. This shows that choice homework wasn’t in any way a burden to me. I usually have an order to the completion of my homework assignments. The fact that I wrote whenever I could is why I like choice homework so much.”

 

Creativity

It’s so much more than 6th grade. It’s so much more than Language Arts. One can consume all the knowledge in the universe but what good is that if one cannot create? Read more about what we value at Durham Academy Middle School ~

https://www.thedagraduate.org/blog/2018/3/20/creativity-by-patti-donnelly

What I Notice

DSC_8222Camp Cheerio Last Day

I’m not sure the first day it started but hearts appear in many forms in my path. Mom and I were going through trunks of family photos this weekend and we found several handmade items from my youth. All of them had hearts drawn on them. I don’t go looking for hearts. That’s the best part. The serendipitous moment when my eyes come across what looks like a heart makes me pause, even for a millisecond, smile, and know in my heart that I am on the right path. I particularly like seeing hearts when I am out running. If nothing else, it’s a bit of a distraction from my the many miles of pounding pavement.

photo-29My rule is I cannot change anything. I take a picture of what I see as it is in that moment.

The heart at the top was revealed as we were loading the bus on our last day of Camp Cheerio with sixth graders. I found out about a close relative’s passing while on this school trip. Was it Rock’s message to me? Was it Cheerio saying that we’d had an incredible trip this year? Was it random? It does not matter. It made me smile. Another cool ripple effect is that friends and family from around the world share hearts with me. A simple gesture that says so much about how we are all connected. Yes, connected with technology, but more importantly, by a human connection. We recognize and validate what other people value, what other people are passionate about, and by kind gestures that warm other people’s hearts.

So as you go about your day, what do you notice? What makes you curious? What gives you pause?

DSC_8235Do you see it in the distance?

DSC_8236Are you curious?

DSC_8245Will you see beyond what you think you see?

DSC_8249To find the heart of the matter?

DSC_7919Like a four leaf clover, sometimes you find two!