Over the summer I worked with a few teachers to develop an introductory experience for 9th grade students. In general the governing framework for 9th grade has been redesigned to provide teachers common planning time and to create a core set of outcomes. Before school ended teachers and administrators came together to develop a set of key learning outcomes (Critical Reading, Problem Solving, Research, Communication and Collaboration). Curriculum, assessments and lessons would be anchored by these outcomes. Additionally, an overarching goal is to ensure that students grow in each of these areas over the next ten months.
Several of us thought it would be valuable to start the year by privileging these outcomes through a somewhat unique experience. As opposed to just presenting and having a discussion about the outcomes, it was believed that students need to live these expectations. It's believed by doing, the key learning outcomes become relevant and meaningful within the lives of our students. So we created the Sol LeWitt Inspired Project for the Freshman Experience (this link provides a strong overview, the finished draft contains rotations schedules and growth measurements). Over the next three weeks (we hope), students will be striving towards producing a wall mural that is inspired by the work of Sol LeWitt.
We are not sure how it will turn out or how long it will take. However, to an extent it does not matter. Another collective belief was valuing the process more than the finished product. Often kids are focused on the end point or the relief of meeting a deadline and as a consequence fail to reflect during and after the completion of a task. The LeWitt project is structured to where reflection is a core element and for most of the time, students are observing and commenting on their work and the work of their peers.
Included below is an unedited interview with two of the teachers involved in the experience. This interview was conducted on the eve of the project. At this point students had only been introduced to LeWitt and his work and a broad overview of the next few weeks was disseminated.
Feel free to take a look at the experience and follow student's progress via #mshlewitt.