This morning I was able to see innovative teacher @brad_cunningham‘s Grade 12′s in the Flexible Studies Program at Reynolds High School. The grade 2 students from Breafoot Elementary, were just arriving at the high school to receive a children’s book that had been created by their big buddy with them in mind. This was a project that has been running for a few years and built around reading buddies. The purpose is to teach the conventions of children’s books to high school student and provide the elementary school with handmade library books and shared reading time.
What was particularly exceptional with the whole project was the quality of the books. Brad filled me in with the million’s of questions I had for him -scaffolding, framing, organization, and assessment. It was made obvious to me that it wasn’t the assessment of the final product that was the motivation, but the process of self-organizing, reflection, and student pride that drove everything. To begin, the high school students looked at children’s books and analyzed them for structure, form, and voice. Then students needed to self-organize into a group of three – the artist, the writer, and the binder – and come up with a concept from the interests of the grade 2 student.
Each book was created totally different. Some were completely done on computers, some illustrations done by hand and then imported onto computers, and others didn’t use a computer at all.
Most interestingly, the final book was not assessed. Brad has his students tell ‘the story of the story’ and it is a self-reflection and self-assessment process. In Brad’s words, “After hearing all the grade 2 students be so excited to receive a book that was hand made specifically for them, how could I assess one book a C and another book an A.”
I heard a parent say, “These books are so well written!” Brad then spoke to the effort the students made in grammar, punctuation, and choice in words.
The books will be on display and be able to be signed out from Braefoot Elementary.
I could feel the buzz in the classroom and had a hard time leaving for my next appointment. Thanks Brad.