Debuting New Learning Adventures


Well it has come; the last true night of summer before I must be concerned with getting up the next morning at an annoyingly early hour.

It seems like the summer has just flown by. Fuse15, then Nerd Camp1 at Duke East for TIP, then acro camp, then Capon, then New York, then Yale, then soccer, and now school.

I spent today at school for my siblings orientations even though mine isn’t until tomorrow. I even got to see the new Studio(i) on the Lower School which is a fantastic new makers space! During the middle school orientation I almost just started laughing because they mentioned student led conferences and my first thought was “I was just reading about those for our new AP Lang course!!!”

For our collab-course, Kat and I will not be taking a final exam in the spring, and instead we will be doing what is sometimes referred to as a passage. We will be presenting to a panel of mentors about why we think we deserve to pass from this class into our senior year. It’s a neat concept we read about that really requires students to understand what the purpose of a class was and show how they met the learning outcomes. My hope is that by demonstrating our work in this way we will also be more proud of our “final exam” then if we were to just study and then sit down for a long test probably consisting of lots of multiple choice questions.

In the same article (sorry I don’t have the original still because I copied it so I could annotate it) that talked about passages, it also talked about student led conferences. The purpose of the conferences is similar to the purpose of the passage in the sense that the goal is for students to take ownership of their learning and be able to clearly articulate what they’ve been doing and learning at school. Rather than just parents coming in to talk to their child’s teacher about the child’s behavior and participation at school, the student is also present and serves as the person informing the parents with the teacher their for help and guidance if needed. From what I’ve read, it seems like this way of having a conference would be much more powerful to the parents because they’re getting to see for themselves how their child is growing as a learner. Not to mention this conferences hold teachers to a new standard because they also have to help make sure their students are prepared to lead a conference. Over all I’m really excited for both passages and student led conferences to be making their debut at MVPS this year!

Speaking of AP Lang, the course is still a go!!!! I can’t wait to get this syllabus sent off to the college board as soon as we can so we can make edits if need be! I’m even excited to start our first book during Chapter 2: The Art of Innovation, which to me almost feels like us going back to the start of ID when Kat and I read “The Falconer” because now we are going to read Grant Lichtman’s second book “#EdJourney”! I’m super excited to read what he has to say in this second book and can’t wait to start discussing the topics that he brings up!

I keep thinking about AP Lang because I was working on my summer project for it. To take it straight from our handy dandy syllabus, this is what the task we created for ourselves is:

Over the summer students will be required to find and read at least 10 articles of their choice. (Videos and podcast are also acceptable.) The students will then take these 10 sources and create a Hero’s Journey story board poster by finding connections between the different topics. When they get back to school the students will have a discussion based on what they learned from the articles, the struggles that they faced with creating a story with them, and the ideas they got from thinking about the cross pollination of ideas. In addition these articles will serve as the first pieces of writing for students to dig into in terms of style and rhetorical strategies. 

One of the big goals we are trying to achieve with our course is to take advantage of the work we already do and want to be doing and to showcase this learning in a way that demonstrates how we are meeting school standards as well as enjoying ourselves. We wanted summer to be no exception, so rather than reading a set book, we thought we would take advantage of the fact that we would be reading lots of articles and add in the idea of The Hero’s Journey while thinking like a designer about it by building connections between stories. It all just blends together to make a nice kick off to our year in this course!

I’m just so pumped to really get this ball rolling, and since I co-made the course, I also know that the work isn’t even close to over yet.

It’s the last night of summer, but I feel like I’ve barely left school, and somehow that feels ok. I’ve been realizing more and more that I really enjoy going to school because at MVPS we have some pretty cool stuff going on that you can’t find in most places, and from talking with so many other students, I know they’re jealous and think it’s awesome stuff too. 🙂

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