Lit Phase #1: Humanity

Here you will find details about the current phase of the project.

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Partially Raised by Mark Twain: Thoughts the Night Before Intersession

My grandfather was a powerful man.

He wasn’t strong in a brash, bruising or bullish way, but he was the kind of guy that people listened to. He was sharp, empathetic and encouraging. He was interested, baritone-voiced and familiar. He was learned, read and he loved loved Mark Twain. Rarely a family get-together would go on without Twain quotes booming from his deep Kentucky voice box.

“What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin.”

“France has neither winter nor summer nor morals — apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country.”

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing you can do is keep your mind young.”

I think he loved Twain’s cavalier demeanor. My grandfather had strong opinions and quick wit, but his kindness always kept him from being crass. Sort of like Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, Twain gave him a chance to adventure out of his properness. This tension between gentility and adventure was the paintbrush and palette of my childhood. A paraphrase of Twain’s thoughts echoes through our family’s history.

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”

Though I grew up in a family full of teachers, many of the most significant learning experiences of my life happened outside-of or even in-spite-of the traditional school setting I was enrolled in. I found immense joy in playing outside. Growing up on a small farm afforded me the luxury of space and simplicity. Throughout the open range of my “backyard” I built forts and skate ramps. I caught fish and learned to drive a tractor.

Since I began teaching at High Tech High I have cherished our tension. In many ways, the wildness of our school reminds me of home. The qualities that made my grandfather great are abundant in the work and people I see around me. I see kindness and thoughtfulness, wit and clarity. I also see the edge and wildness that he loved about Twain.

Tomorrow morning High Tech High begins our annual intersession. Throughout the school students will participate in two-week intensive courses ranging from cycling, building furniture, painting, sculpting and baking, to yoga, film critiquing, cooking and learning to swim. Teachers have designed courses based on their personal passions and fields where they might be pursuing their own learning.

For the second year in a row, my students will be exploring buoyancy before designing and building rafts that will be used to float down the lower section of the Colorado River. Floatopia! 2016 was a thrill. Much like Twain’s characters floating down the Mississippi River, our students were given a chance to be adventurers; to learn on the fly…or float. I am excited to further develop our rafting adventure with a new group of students this year. Floatopia! 2.0 is an homage to Twain’s famous comment about education being stifled by schooling and its also a celebration of the awesomeness that exists in “figuring something out.”

I feel blessed to have had people like my grandfather to guide me as I grew up. His character is still a model I hopefully strive toward. I also feel grateful to have had an upbringing that allowed and encouraged me to do wild and creative things. The little piece of me that was raised by Mark Twain is stoked about this project.

Track our progress!

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Blog Post Week #7

The following is due via blog on Oct 17th.

*Write a short reflection of the week. Sum up your individual and group progress. (<250 words)

Example:

This week was incredibly satisfying. I had a great summer of adventure and family time, but getting back into work with my friends has been amazing. Brian has been a really thoughtful partner and I am constantly amazed at his passion and pursuit of what he cares about. We have only spent a few days working together, but I feel refreshed and re-invigorated about my work. We have invested most of our time working on the project details and ordering or purchasing materials and equipment. Brian has taken the lead with balsa wood rocket gear and I am working pretty hard on lining up reading, writing and social science work for our students. Along with the traditional humanities teacher jobs I have also been working on models of the wooden books the students will make and the types of writing they will be doing as well as building rocket motor molds on the steel mill and purchasing tools and equipment to replenish items that have been moved or removed over the summer. I think the year is off to a great start and I look forward to seeing what the students make happen.

*Embed assignments from the week. 

-Final reflection from the rocket project

-Ideation and Brainstorming for Capstone Project

*Choose 3-5 “Habits of a Great Learner” and answer a selection of appropriate questions.

HabitsofaGreatLearner

Blog Post Week #6

The following is due via blog on Oct 10th.

*Write a short reflection of the week. Sum up your individual and group progress. (<250 words)

Example:

This week was incredibly satisfying. I had a great summer of adventure and family time, but getting back into work with my friends has been amazing. Brian has been a really thoughtful partner and I am constantly amazed at his passion and pursuit of what he cares about. We have only spent a few days working together, but I feel refreshed and re-invigorated about my work. We have invested most of our time working on the project details and ordering or purchasing materials and equipment. Brian has taken the lead with balsa wood rocket gear and I am working pretty hard on lining up reading, writing and social science work for our students. Along with the traditional humanities teacher jobs I have also been working on models of the wooden books the students will make and the types of writing they will be doing as well as building rocket motor molds on the steel mill and purchasing tools and equipment to replenish items that have been moved or removed over the summer. I think the year is off to a great start and I look forward to seeing what the students make happen.

*Embed assignments from the week. 

-Connect Collins to Eklund: How is Collins’ rockslide story similar to Eklund’s “stars reflecting on water” story?

-Final Rocket Video

 

Choose 3-5 “Habits of a Great Learner” and answer a selection of appropriate questions.

HabitsofaGreatLearner