Good Sunday Morning,
Yesterday students were fully engaged, and I think the most important aspect for all three groups was to reconnect in person (We've heard this before; so much of the feedback last year was for more time to meet with each other).
All students were on time except one, who arrived 20 mins late, which was a bit of a bummer, but we started without him. He seemed to get caught up quickly, but it's the unsaid statements that behavior send that bothered me a bit and worried me about the impact on his team, which is already the most fragile team of the three that met in Middlebury, in my view.
At about 10:15am until almost 11am, all three groups meeting in Middlebury came together, were presented the letter, had a couple minutes to read, looked at the KUDs individually, and then they were presented with the Menu of Products and asked to meditate on what interested them. Next, we were able to hear from the Education Reform group about how they are already going beyond the documentary for each individual to demonstrate proficiency and growth in these areas. Those peer examples seemed to be powerful for the other two groups.
We also discussed the notion of not just creating products but thinking ahead to ways to deliver those products to targeted audiences. We discussed going on a local (Middlebury Comunity Television) show that talked about issues and community figures, presenting at open comment periods at public meetings at the municipal, school, and state level.
Next, teams broke out into different rooms to share what products individuals had identified, were interested in pursuing, and how those products work together.
I went with my group: Emergency Dispatch Cuts:
One particular student was quite obviously put-off because she had not been in control of the work on the documentary and seemed to mis-remember verbal agreements the group seemed otherwise clear about. The good news is that by the end of the day, she seemed to like being in control of a new product: a website! I think this sense of autonomy and control is just what she needed and has been very challenged by working in groups: something "the best" students in our schools would be challenged by because extended collaboration is not part of the educational landscape most of the time.
I've racked my own thinking a lot over the last two weeks thinking what is lost and what is won as we have asked students to work as groups. Saturday helped build back my resolve around the benefits and unique hard work we are asking students to do in collaborative ways. There are almost no other ways in which students are asked to work collaboratively for extended periods of time outside of athletic fields, and that is such a different experience than academics, research, social change, etc.
I think our group will have a completed a "best draft" of their video documentary by April 2nd, a website, shorter videos that edit down full interviews for archival purposes on the website, and letter to the editor for wide publication in local VT newspapers. They may have more.
At this point, I expect April 2nd to be a time where many groups present what they have created, receive peer-feedback, and use the remaining 3 hours or so as work time to tighten the screws on these pieces. And, I look to the May retreat to primarily reflect on the KUDS/LS and link evidence in a final and revised piece of writing and perhaps continue to make final adjustments on products and share those with change-makers.
Something all of our radars:
Video submissions for the Freedom and Unity TV contest (Vermont youth film contest) is due by April 14. Another contest run by Castleton University for our youth is due by April 21nd.