Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

An Anti-Coleman Assignment

I don't know about you, but I'm running on fumes about now.

Between the compliance stuff for the new teacher evaluation system (including the fetishization of the lesson plans which I covered a while back), the Common Core implementation (which has been going less than swimmingly), the MOSL tests and grading, the Regents classes I have had this year and just the overall "gotcha" zeitgeist from the Regents, the SED, the DOE and the media and politicians, I'm running on empty as the old song goes.

After the 12+ argumentative essay assignments each class has done since September, the close reading exercises, the complex test and informational text practice and all the other so-called "college and career readiness" reforms we've done throughout the year, I decided to hand out a creative assignment to the 11th graders who passed the Regents in January.

The assignment was this:

In preparation for next year's college essay assignment, produce a piece of writing about your own life, about some of the struggles you have had growing up and how you have learned to deal with them. You can write this piece any way you choose - as a first person narrative, as a third person narrative, as a first person essay, even, if you choose, in poetry form (though clear with me the guidelines for that.) The only requirement for the task is that you focus on something of value that you have learned through struggle, some nugget of wisdom you have learned through experience.

I'm thinking of this as the anti-David Coleman assignment, the kind of thing where I do give a shit what the students think and feel, what they have learned not through reading but through living.

I'm looking forward to reading what students come up with.

8 comments:

  1. Great assignment. You may be running on fumes but you are a real teacher, Mr. Perdido Street School.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words, Patrick. I appreciate all kind words, but especially those I hear from people like yourself who I respect.

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. Thanks - that means a lot coming from you too, Arthur.

      Delete
  3. Sounds like a great assignment. It is so refreshing to give both the teachers and students some time away from common core to reflect on what really matters. I am sure they will learn a lot from this. It is a shame that teachers have to do these types of things in secret nowadays.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had students work on this in class today. Some asked for a rubric. I said no rubric. Some asked for an outline. I said no outline. They're so used to being micromanaged with outlines and rubrics that it threw them off for a few minutes when I said I would brook neither an outline nor a rubric for this assignment. We simply talked through issues they had with the writing, and often a free writing exercise was all they needed to get started...

      Delete
  4. My niece went for a job interview a few years back and they asked her to write about a struggle she faced in her life, how she overcame it, and what she had learned from the experience. Little did you know that this is more "College and Career Ready" than you thought!

    Mary

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for that story, Mary. That really puts "career-ready" skills into perspective and goes to show how empty so much of the "college and career-ready" stuff the reformers tout is.

    ReplyDelete