Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Genetic Essay - A Crazy Crandall First

In the 3rd week of partnership programming, ED 329: Philosophy of Education partnered with middle school students to make sense of Paulo Freire and Kristina Rizga readings, while assisting teachers in offering possible writing projects for their classrooms. This week, it was genetics. A 7th grade teacher is introducing hereditary traits and DNA to her students and we spent today discussing what it would be like to write a "block by block" essay on our personal, biological traits.

I was super impressed with the young writers and their intelligence for marking characteristics they've inherited from parents, grandparents and personal cultures. I sort of gaged success when I walked around the room and saw 100% of the kids writing up and beyond what I expected them to do as I modeled my own Ripley and Crandall genes (My favorite line of the day..."The older I get, the tighter my genes!"

I was able to discuss my brown eyes, height, pin-straight hair, weight, psoriasis, and creativity for traits passed down to me. I told the kids that I look a lot like my mom's side of the family, but I find myself sticking my tongue out of my mouth while thinking, which is totally Crandall.

I'm an ethnic mutt, and the kids seemed to understand what I was saying about this: Scottish, Welsh, German, English, Irish, and Ukranian heritage.

I've also become addicted to the combined class. If I am teaching about K-12 schools, it works stupendously to have K-12 students in my classes with undergraduate and graduate students as I teach. Equally important is the fact that the middle school students over the last few weeks have totally been able to dissect and develop their thinking from the quotes I've chosen from the academic texts my undergraduates are exploring.

Another bonus to the work has been the dialogue with classroom teachers with what they are viewing from the collaboration of learning together. 009, the class I have, is a wonderful space for such partnership and I feel very fortunate that I was assigned the room. My students' reflections, too, highlight how much they are getting from the experience. The only flaw in the design is the fact that I only do drive-by lessons and can't be more every day in the lives of K-12 youth.

When the science teacher reported, "I'm totally going to do these activities every year and with my other classes," I felt somewhat proud. We looked at comic strips and the way ideas can be blocked to offer guidance of developing our own writing.

Phew. By the end of the modeling, I had a two page essay! This seems perfect for the 7th grade classroom. Of course, I'm old and have much to draw from, but I believe the kids made the necessary connections. I witnessed this with their willingness to write much while they were  on campus. Better yet? They wanted to write and volunteered to share.

One more crew to go! The 8th grade!

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