Design Lab: Open Study Update #2

Last week feels like a year ago, and so much has happened for this project that I keep forgetting how behind I am on updating my blog. Basically, the meeting to discuss the Gifted program at our school got moved back to (most likely) the 20th, so yay extra time, and we’ve written the course descriptions and even had an interview with the other Ghenglish class!

About that meeting, I’m kind of happy it got pushed back because now we have more time to prepare something awesome for the administrators and teachers. I’m scared that they’ll push it back again, but we’ve made so much progress already that I hope it stays at the date it’s at now.

The interviews we did were rimg_3198eally cool, as we went up and visited the other Gifted Honors English teacher for the 9th graders, Mrs. McAllister, and we got to observe her class. When I first walked in there, Katie and I were a little apprehensive about her teaching style as it seemed too English-y, but there were many aspects I ended up loving about the way she teaches the class. The kids were using lots of technology for a cute little tone and mood activity, which looked really fun as they made up new sentences for the class to read. The kids were also working on creative writing activity which I am so jealous about. Mrs. McAllister’s students do freewriting just like Mr. Heidt’s students, but instead of never going back to those pieces, they choose one and turn it into something big. One kid who we interviewed was rewriting The Lion King from Scar’s perspective, and I legit died. I would absolutely love to do that!

The takeaway from the observation is that even though Mrs. McAllister did things differently, the class still felt like a Glass and creativity was a huge focus. The only complaints I have are related to the room decor, as I  was still in classroom redesign mode (whoops). It did feel weird to me how the desks weren’t in a circle, but because the class was pretty big and collaborative work was pushed, I’ll let thimg_3200at one slide. The two students we interviewed told us that they loved how fun and relaxed Ghenglish was, and that it is very well-balanced between Gifted and English. They also said they would both take in 11th and 12th grade as long as they didn’t go into AP, but they liked the freedom, the connection they had with their classmates, and Touchstones. Grading is an issue with the class, which  Katie and I know very well as our assignments are very sporadic and all over the place. Overall, the interviews just drove in the point that made me go after this project-the incredible sense of the class’s community.

Besides all of that, Katie and I wrote up the course descriptions and we need to edit them tomorrow. They’re due on Thursday 12/15, but with Mr. Heidt’s help we’ll make sure they sound impressive. Otherwise, I’ll be back with another update soon (we just had a Skype chat with Don Wettrick today!).

Check out Katie’s blog here: http://aka-enlightenment.tumblr.com/

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