Being a Free Spirit


It’s funny how God gives your children the very character you desire to have. My oldest daughter is such a free spirit. She wears what feels right to her no matter the color scheme or weather. She moves to the music whether others hear it or not. I watch her and wish I could throw my controlling ways to the wind.

Now let me connect this idea of being a free spirit to my journey into middle school. Most teachers are hindered in best practices due to our own struggle with control. Unfortunately, students cannot accept responsibility for their learning if we do not give them some control. This is one way I plan to be a free spirit, my plan is layered like an onion.


Students will be graded based on demonstration of the standards. This will be done through portfolio based grading. Being a free spirit part 1, students will create a menu of ways to show understanding. Included in this menu will be two teacher selected pieces and 7 other options for students to decide. In order to grade the portfolio, a rubric will be created during a students and teacher collaboration, being a free spirit part 2. The rubric will be based on the SMPs and evidence of them within each unit of study. Well, students will need to understand the SMPs.

This is where being a free spirit part 3 comes into play. The activity plays out in my mind like this. Instead of posting kid friendly SMPs posters in the room, I plan to have students explore two standards a day. Students will look at the standard and discuss their interpretation of each. Students will be given the standard descriptors and will match the correct descriptor to the standards. This will be followed by an activity in which students will engage where the standards will be exhibited. After looking at all 8 standards, students can create posters of the SMPs.

Back to the rubric, with a better understanding of what they are expected to do, students can set the expectations of the 4 point scale rubric. My role will be to facilitate discussions and add specifics regarding the content standards. Free spirit squared 😁.

Why use 3-Act Tasks?


Under the Dome

The short answer:  It’s what’s best for kids!

If you want more, read on:

The need for students to make sense of problems can be addressed through tasks like these.  The challenge for teachers is, to quote Dan Meyer, “be less helpful.”  (To clarify, being less helpful means to first allow students to generate questions they have about the picture or video they see in the first act, then give them information as they ask for it in act 2.)  Less helpful does not mean give these tasks to students blindly, without support of any kind!

This entire process will likely cause some anxiety (for all).  When jumping into 3-Act tasks for the first (second, third, . . .) time, students may not generate the suggested question.  As a matter of fact, in this task about proportions and scale, students may ask many questions that are curious questions, but have nothing…

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