Well, here we are… Summer is over (at least from a teacher’s point of view), and it’s time to hit the ground running. It seems like a logical time to take a minute and welcome everyone back, and maybe share what’s been going on with me.
For the last year, I worked at a nonprofit. I took the job as a chance to take a break from the classroom and focus on some different priorities in my life. At the time, I honestly wasn’t sure whether I’d return to teaching - that’s how burned out I was feeling.
That year off was really good for me; I had the opportunity to work in a highly collaborative environment, have a more flexible schedule, and learn a lot about early childhood development.
But for a variety of reasons, I’m now returning to the classroom. And this time, I’ve taken some action to relieve some of the things that were plaguing me when I left.
First of all, I’m only teaching on a 0.8 contract, and I’ve asked for first period off, giving me time in the morning with my two kids.
Of that 0.8, 0.4 will be Drama classes, so like… yeah. That’s basically going to be awesome. The Drama program at my school is pretty legendary, so these classes are packed with enthusiastic freshmen.
The other 0.4, I’ll be teaching a class titled International Problems - the way I interpret this, we’ll be going in depth for a semester on current world issues. Gee, can you think of any issues currently happening in the world? Somehow, I don’t think we’re going to be short on material.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about how the concepts of Project Based Awesome fit into these two courses I’ll be teaching. For the previous two years, I taught English Language Arts, so I’ve got the PBA approach to that discipline pretty well honed. Now I get to see how well it transfers over to other disciplines...
This class is a bit different, because it isn’t really academic. It’s experiential, active. It’s the fundamentals of acting. So a lot of the traditional classroom and instructional issues that project-based approaches try to address just aren’t present in this course.
One thing I can and will do is develop Driving Questions for each of my units in this course, keeping the students focused on the why of each area we work on.
I’ll try to keep updating here on the blog with how this course works out in PBA terms.
Here’s where we can have some fun with PBA. I’ve been told by several folks in the social studies department that I have a lot of free reign with this class, which is great news! I can PBA it up all over the place!
I’ve been working on designing the first unit, which is going to be about News Literacy (something we could all use some improvement in, eh?), and I’ve got Driving Questions, Inputs, and Outputs. I decided not to do a major assessment for this unit, and instead am treating it like Boot Camp for the rest of the course (thanks for that awesome idea, Chris).
Again, I’ll keep updating on how International Problems turns out here on the blog.
What will you be trying this school year? What project-based concepts are you working on? How can we help?