Every teacher has a couple of projects, activities, or assignments that they are really proud of. These are the assignments that receive a bit of tweaking here or there, but for the most part remain in their original state because they just somehow work. Shorted is one of those projects. Originally the unit was drafted as a result of an externship with North Carolina Prevention Partners and was the major deliverable for my Kenan Fellowship. A year and a half after first writing up the documents and setting the plans in place, I'm now on my third iteration. Each time I've made small tweaks to the project requirements (this year I am requiring data gathering via survey) and lesson plans, but essentially the unit has remained unchanged. The driving question, "Why might your generation not live as long as your parents' generation?" continues to attract the interest of students, and they are always intrigued by the challenge to prove that their product has been seen by 350 people.
Somehow, though, I'm pretty sure it isn't the details or the requirements of the project that make it work. Shorted works because it is personal. Almost all students can connect to the American Obesity Epidemic in some way. When a unit touches upon the experience of your sister or grandma or cousin or uncle students suddenly see the work as relevant and maybe a bit more important. This unit is one that has actually caused students to examine the way that they move through the world and the choices that they make. As a teacher, so often we are required to teach curriculum that is near impossible to connect to the everyday experience of an American teenager. So when I actually happen upon something that students find to be valuable I do my very best to enjoy experiencing the work through their eyes and to become a partner in the path of exploration they have chosen.
This week Jalissa Willis was asked to reflect on the week that was. Hopefully her post will provide some insight on the project, as seen through the eyes of a student.
This week we started our new unit on Obesity. Which also meant and working on our new projects on obesity. The thing that interested me the most this week was learning what obesity is and what determines if you’re obese or not. We also learned who are the biggest victims of obesity and connections between obesity and other topics. We also learned how your BMI can be used to determine if you're too big for your weight and height. We looked over and wrote a blog about an infographic on obesity (see above). I liked the activity where we compared poverty and obesity. I enjoyed that activity because it made think deeply about a controversial topic. After doing that assignment it made me have a whole other outlook on food places. After learning all we need to know about obesity for our projects we spent the rest of our time focusing on our projects. This unit should be great! Only more great ones to come.