Wednesday, May 13, 2009

reflections on the expedition

later on i'm going to give a few pointers based on some PD we did once on the difference between a "learning expedition," which is a feature of being at an Expeditionary Learning school, and a unit. the basic idea is that the expedition has the concept of field work built into it, and the end result is a product that is physical and documented (like a video, a book of work, or something) that sort of like the accumulation of all the knowledge the kids've gained while exploring the topic they're exploring. units can be based around certain ideas and themes, and so can expeditions (ours is "Surviving Adolescence," for example), but the real expedition is about something specific--a "compelling topic" as it were.

well, our compelling topic was Sierra Leone, and specifically child soldiers, and more specifically Ishmael Beah's "Memoirs of a Boy Soldier." so, we rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed a dance, a poem, a song and a play; we painted a mural (i mean the kids--two really--although i really mean my mentor teacher did it all and the kids colored it in...) and we put it all together in front of the other students of the school. 400 kids. it was fantastic. the kids did very, very well, and i'm very proud of them.

ishmael beah came, also. yup! he came to our school and spoke to our kids. they had lots of questions for him, usually about the same question that the other student next to him/her asked. but, it's all good. they felt completely satisfied and grateful for his coming to see them. i, however, was wicked awkward in front of him. never thank an author. he knows you're grateful. anyway, point of it is, we finished the book the day he came to our school. it's a bit pathetic, but that's how it goes. as for the final exam, i'm rather disappointed in my execution of it, but also the apathy that many students have for completing it. it's unfortunate. but, should it really be any skin off my back if they tell me they're not going to do it and get the zero anyway?

all in all, it was a very, very rushed reading of the book. i would've loved to do it at a much slower pace, but that's just not the case, really. i'd also like to have figured out much more a homework schedule (another issue i'd like to discuss at another point in time) and also a reading day vs. non-reading day. the schedules just were too crazy, and i never intergrated much of the stuff i wanted to integrate into the reading of the book. it sucks, but i suppose that's just how it went.

all in all, goods and challenges. i'm sure i'll be more prepared and be able to time my reading of a book much better. learning rules!!!

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