This year I decided to try something new (no shock there) with my US History students. As I have done in the past, I wanted to create a semester-long project with multiple check points – in “teacher speak” we call these formative assessments – rather than a standard, summative assessment. What I changed was the creativity options – teachers call this differentiated learning – for this project. This year, I offered my students a wide range of artistic options to show their understanding of the historical content covered in class.
“DJ Justin,” an amazing international student, took my artistic challenge and ran with it. I am so excited to show you his three checkpoint submissions: songs he wrote that discuss his personal interpretation of the content from our second-semester units. Go Justin!
For the last two and half years I have been teaching the Mock Trial class at Desert Christian High School. A mock trial is an act or imitation trial. The mock trial program in Arizona teaches students in grades 9-12 about the law and the legal system by participating in a simulated trial. The program is an opportunity for students to learn about the law and the legal system from practicing attorneys; for teachers to work closely with attorneys to reinforce legal concepts in the classroom; and for attorneys to share their expertise about the law and their legal skills.
Last year I had the pleasure of teaching Miss Fennema, who loved the class so much that she enrolled again as a senior, helping teach trial strategies to our varsity and JV teams. She also decided to use the methods she learned in class to produce her college application video to Trinity College in Chicago, Illinois. Miss Fennema filmed this video in my classroom. I loved the finished product so much that I asked for permission to post it here.
For the last 15 years, Desert Christian High School has offered junior and senior girls a two-week summer trip to California. The trip is actually an interdisciplinary program where cross-curricular learning is fostered outside of the classroom. Among the disciplines incorporated into the trip are biology, oceanography, comparative worldview, history, economics, art, climatology, ecology, cultural diversity, stewardship, and conservation.
Students who embark on this trip go to the source of learning, where they live, breathe, and thrive in an interdisciplinary learning environment. In addition, and perhaps the most important of all, students come to know God, the creator of this earth through experience, interactions, fellowship, and mentorship.
Rather than an itinerary, a “tool box” of ideas, events, and places to see is arranged. Each day is an adventure. No day is pre planned. There is one item that has a special, permanent place in the toolbox, however. John Steinbeck’s, Log from the Sea of Cortez, is the inspiration for this program. Students are asked to read it before the trip so as to understand the meaning of authentic learning and exploration.
We’d like to share with you some of our treasured moments from this year’s trip. These images were taken on the days we spent at Catalina Island. Most of us snorkeled, but two of the chaperones and one student is a certified diver. They brought back pictures, and video, of the deep!
In this picture, our lead chaperone, who happens to be a certified master diver, and who also started the girl’s trip program 15 years ago, is briefing our student diver.
Preparing the hair for underwater adventures….
Other, professional divers, who chartered the boat with us. Diving is serious business!
Our little school bus was the perfect home away from home. She brought us to and from events, stored all our food, played movies to keep us entertained on the long California freeways, provided a safe place to get to know one another, and nurtured quite, reflective moments.
Hearst Castle was an awesome experience. Here we learned a great deal about American history, enterprise, and the power of hard work and perseverance.
Our view two evenings in a row. There’s nothing like watching the sunset from a boat and then falling asleep to the rocking of the water.