Survive to Thrive is an integrated project with Humanities, Art and Physics and Engineering. In this project students write, direct, act in, and produce a dystopian film. They engage in a broad study of societies that have collapsed, government functioning, dystopian short stories and films, and sustainable energy sources and seek to answer the following essential questions:
- What causes societies to collapse?
- What role does government play in running a society?
- What do societies need to thrive?
In the Humanities, students:
- Read and analyze dystopian short stories such as "The Lottery" and "Harrison Bergeron" to learn what makes a dystopia and how to portray dystopian themes
- Read and discuss excerpts of Jared Diamond's "Collapse" to learn what makes a society fall
- Develop a theory for a pattern of collapse and research and present on a society that went through this pattern
- Participate in a simulation where they build and run their own government and deal with different dilemmas regarding the bill of rights, the branches of government, and foreign relations in order to learn how government works
- Learn how to write a screenplay using models
- Learn how to act through hands-on practice
- Learn how to advertise a film in order to sell tickets to our movie theatre screening
The Monarch School is a school that serves students affected by homelessness. Each of my students was paired with a third grade student at The Monarch School. After getting to know their partner, my students made custom storybooks and nightlights for the third grade buddies.
The Political Cartoon project is a chance for students' voices to be heard. Students read the Declaration of Independence and discussed what this country is meant to be. Then, they read Frederick Douglass' unforgettable indictment of America, that asked “what is fourth of July to a slave?” He questioned the status quo and mandated change. In this project, inspired by Douglass, we examined ways that the US is not living up to the promises it outlined in the Declaration of Independence. We picked political issues that the US faces and did research so we could form opinions on them. Then, we created political cartoons to represent our opinions on these issues. Students wrote in Claim-Evidence-Reasoning style and practiced gathering evidence from multiple viewpoints and unbiased sources. They debated their issues in class using evidence.
Romeo and Juliet offers students a chance to connect with the power of love and the danger of hate! In this unit, students study:
- The Rennaisance
- Shakespearean language
- Literary devices: metaphors, dramatic foils, foreshadowing, characterization, tone, motifs
- Literary analysis
Students connect to the text by creating hats that represent each character. Daily, different students are chosen to read different characters' parts. Students engage in daily discussion and debate, exploring questions such as:
- What is more powerful, love or hate?
- Does Romeo truly love Juliet?
- What causes a feud?
Team building is vital to creating a strong culture in any classroom. I take time to engage in team building activities as much as possible. These include: the maze game, acting and improv games, team building challenges, "Very Important Person" days where students celebrate one another, "critical friends forever" structures in which students are paired with a critical friend and engage in weekly check-ins with them, and restorative and group circles.
For four years, I have been the advisor for High Tech High Chula Vista's Model United Nations club. We have held an annual conference for our 10th grade (150 students) which is completely student led and designed.