As the year closes out, I always have my classes do a choice-heavy multiform (thanks, Paul) project. It has been a long year that choice can't always be worked into, and with standardized writing mostly out of the way, I want my students to finish the year with greater memories than just, "Mr.G tried to teach us how to write for an exam..."
For both the Grade 9s and 12s, the end of the school year marks a pretty big transition. The 9s move out of the "Junior High," and the 12s move on to the next chapter of their lives. For the last few years, I have presented my 12s with the Make Your Mar Project I have written about. The premise is to have the students write around the idea of Legacy. How can you convey that message? How can you present it in various ways? What are your connections? I am always delightfully surprised by the depth and beauty of much of their work. This year was no different. I had students write about their childhoods and growing up; some wrote about their insecurities and their feelings about never being good enough or the expectations others have of them being too much weight to bear. Students crafted short stories with a legacy theme; they wrote poetry and screenplays based on their favorite books and made websites and posters. They crafted beautiful works of art. They wrote tributes to their family members and letters to their past and future selves. I love the project because it allows them to stretch and feel comfortable in their skin as writers, to use their voice and share what matters to them.
These are just a few examples of the artwork.
Their writing was also phenomenal.
This is just a small sample of a project that allowed my students to explore genres and ways of expressing themselves free of strict rules that often accompany standardized testing. We had poetry, journals, essays, screenplays, letters... and an endless list of unique writing around a shared theme.
I plan to spend time this summer developing and working on new ideas that have been born from this work my students produced and build something new. Then share it.