“Nothing happens during the last week of school…”
That commonly heard commentary served as motivation to make something happen in my classroom. And something did.
The last inquiry unit in my classroom served as a springboard into summer fun, “What is love?” prompted the mission to answer the question. It was not my expectation sophomores would come to a profound conclusion, but I did expect thinking to take place as we applied learned reading strategies and writing techniques. Because I did not buy into “nothing happens during the last week of school” I planned to create a learning experience where something would happen.
Students answered the question, “What is Love?” in a one to two sentence response. After writing time, I called for two student volunteers. One volunteer read their definition, the other volunteer responded and read their definition. No two definitions were alike. I asked them to draw conclusions from the activity. So what? Why does this matter? Students did not surprise me with their observations as the experience was created to help them arrive at a desired conclusion. They noticed that they all had different definitions. And they also commented how this could cause problems. “If I think love means one thing, and I say it I expect that when someone says it to me, they mean the same thing, but they don’t.” This initial activity began the quest. We examined various love songs searching for meaning, exigence, and figurative language. And we laughed. We discussed marketing and persuasive appeals. Students read “The Chaser” by Robert Collier. Students read Shakespeare’s sonnets. Students discussed healthy relationships. Students wrote. In fact, students wrote sonnets. In my tech infused classroom, the art of the love letter was revived. Students crafted love notes to someone they cared for-a friend, a parent, a grandparent, a sibling…Students gave their love notes, for homework can be a gift. Students visited again their initial definition revising their response. The week long unit provided opportunity to have great discussion while reviewing learning from the year. The unit provided opportunity for collaboration and creation while celebrating learning from the year. And, of course, we laughed.
For my six years teaching high school English, I made sure something happened the last week of school. I explained to my students I was selfish. I loved teaching, and I was not ready to stop. I hoped they would understand my want to continue until the very last day. I thanked them for understanding.