Our Philadelphia, Our America

When I read Claudia Rankine's Citizen last year, I immediately wondered what my students would have to say about it.

In her writing, Rankine captures her experiences and observations of race in America. The lyric poem explores what Rankine calls her "self self" and her "historical self." It's a moving account, from the microagressions to the national outcries, and students had a lot to say about this text.

Earlier in the year, my colleague, Josh Block, and I wondered about how to engage students in the current world around them. The culminating project that we came up with was Our Philadelphia, Our America. In both of our classes, we asked all of the 12th graders these essential questions:
  • How can we respond to this moment in time?
  • What new narratives can we construct in order to re-imagine future possibilities?
  • What does it mean to be a citizen?
  • What does it mean to be a young person in Philadelphia?

Here is the full project description.

Students grappled in a variety of ways with ideas of citizenship and identity. The structure of this project gave space for students' voices while pushing them to create their best work to share with a wider audience.

It was an important reminder:
Sometimes the best thing we can do for student learning is to get out of the way.

There are too many great Field Notes to share, but here is a sampling of some stand-outs:

This is a tiny selection of awesome student work, but you can see many more Field Notes on our evolving website.

At EduCon last weekend, Josh and I led a session called Citizenship and Radical Hope, where we invited several students to share their work on this project with conference attendees.

My favorite part of the entire weekend was hearing students read aloud snippets of their writing. Their voices sounded different. There was a fire behind the words that I didn't hear from other class assignments.

Something to ask myself more often, perhaps: what's my role in tending that fire?

No comments:

Post a Comment