IB, NGSS, and Dr. Seuss

So school has officially started and I feel like the teacher I always wanted to be. So many of the things last years group taught me, I am actually using, to build relationships and set the tone for a great year. The kids are responding. Another teacher came up to me to let me know that a student told her, “Mr. Lockhart’s class is my favorite. It is a safe place and he cares.” Can’t express how much this means to me.

My school is an IB MYP school and with that we have decided to do grades a little different. We have separated out the Approaches To Learning (ATL) (these are in many ways VERY similar to NGSS SEP), the skills students use to access the content, from actual Achievement assignments. We even have a category called progress that allows the student to struggle and work through material without it impacting their grades. I will probably write a post soon that will walk through this but it has been amazing the discussions I have had with my students. They are working harder and taking more chances because they are not worried about the grade. Isn’t that what learning should be about?

I told them on day 1 that throughout the year they will fail, and during our first design challenge they did. The goal was to build the tallest free standing tower with 3 sheets of paper and 6 in. of tape. They designed, constructed, evaluated, and reflected. They then repeated the process.

As they reflected on the activity and what they learned from it a couple of themes came to light, 1) Time and material management, 2) group selection (+ and -), 3) Not having a well thought out plan, and 4) NEVER GIVING UP. Even though they “failed” (did not meet the goal) they walked away with valuable life lessons. I told them that I want them trying. If you fail ok, but what is your next step? Always be thinking about what you can do to improve. I am here to help.

After doing this activity I wanted to know who these students were and what they cared about. I have no chance to reach them unless I show them I care and that they are special. So I read them The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. I did not read it for the science content but rather the second to last page. See IB MYP has these things called Global Context. It is a way of helping students understand their role and responsibilities in a global society.  On the next to last page the Once-ler tells the boy, “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” But I did not stop there. I asked my kids to design a graphic that took it one step further. “What do you care enough about that would cause you to take action?” See we all care about a lot of things but only a few that we would actually take the time to do something about. Family, friends, faith, illness, environment, sports, the list goes on and on. Many of my students have never thought about what they care about. But during this activity they were starting to think of ways they could use their passions to HELP. So by the start of next week I will have a wall full of the passions of my students that they are willing to use to help.

Now a wall is nice, but it will be my goal to help them see that the NGSS: SEP, DCI, CCC and IB: ATL, Learner Profile, and focus on community service, will give them skills and tools to make a difference. Because each student is in my room for a reason, and UNLESS you (student) care a whole awful lot nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

Loving my Job,

Nathan

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