Most of my attention during the day (and on this blog) is directed toward my language arts classes, but I also teach an exploratory class at the end of the day. This class has varied from speech to research paper writing (worst nightmare: teaching formal research writing to 7th graders at the end of a long day). For the past two years, a beloved coworker and I have team-taught a publishing/technology class that creates Clargold Weekly, a website featuring content chosen and created by our 7th grade exploratory students.
After seeing the amazing Kevin Honeycutt speak to our district back in August, I was inspired to add a weekly show to our site. Students in my class would write the script and provide acting, while students in Mr. McGurk's class would film, edit, and direct each episode. Clargold Chronicles can range from real-life to fantasy, with students choosing the genre and topic each week. It's been a lot of fun so far, and other kids at school are excited when the new episodes come out on Mondays. The other teachers love to use their acting skills, and it gives our students the chance to create something and immediately gauge audience reaction.
One of the script writers for this week was the daughter of our gym teacher (Mr. Klaver), and she wondered why her dad and I have always had a rivalry when it comes to school games and competitions. "The KlaverSteen Rivalry" was born as our very own sports documentary in her attempts to get to the bottom of the situation. It was ridiculously fun to be a major part of the episode this week, since my usual role as script supervisor/deadline enforcer is much less glamorous. This thing became so much fun that we even enlisted the help of some former students (high school seniors) to make appearances.
And in the middle of all this ridiculousness, what lessons were learned? Students had to write a script, and also allow for ad-libbing from their ornery teachers. They had to interview people their age, older teenagers they look up to, and the adults who teach them every day. They had to edit video and choose between multiple camera angles for the best shots. They had to learn the consequences of throwing out great interviews because they covered the microphone and couldn't re-interview. But I think the most important thing is that they saw us, their teachers, having fun with each other. They saw us teasing each other and being genuinely silly in a way that's not always possible during a more structured class. They saw our enthusiasm because both Mr. Klaver and I were genuinely having a ball and thrilled to be part of these shenanigans for a week. Most teachers are isolated from other adults for the majority of the day, and this gave the kids a chance to see us having a blast together.
If you read this, please take the time to watch the episode. For better or worse, YouTube views mean a lot to this generation of students, and I would love to see the looks on their faces when they realize that more people are checking out the show.
I teach 7th and 8th grade English in rural Iowa and hope to reflect, connect, and share with other English teachers. Iowa Council of Teachers of English Executive Board member. Iowa Writing Project superfan. UNI MA:TESS graduate.