The first assessment is in and I couldn’t be more overjoyed. It was a visual reading, a project where students dramatically read the poem and then match it to images/video to enhance the message.

Here’s what she created. Can you believe she is a shy girl who had found speaking in class a struggle at the beginning of the year? But when given an alternative to show her understanding, she rose:

She chose Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”, a poem that resonated with her. After reviewing some annotation techniques, she studied the poem and then found pictures that suited her vision.

For my part, I probed her understanding of various devices and asked her questions about the sample annotation techniques and what she liked and didn’t like about them. I learned that one technique, SPEcSLIMS, is better suited to help students organized their ideas if they already know a poem: it doesn’t help them make sense of a new poem.

I also learned that a key component of this unit is teaching students when to stop. With full responsibility for planning her time, and knowing her product would be viewed by her peers, the student was tinkering with minor details far too long. I had to step in and remind her that at some point we must let our work go and consider it finished. I’ll try to do that sooner next time.

This is what she created:

I’m so proud on so many levels:

  1. She embraced the project as her own. She could have chosen one of the preselected poems, but instead she read many poems online until she found the one the she loved.
  2. She speaks with passion. Enunciation suffers at times, but she clearly captures the tone.
  3. She took risks and shared. Not only did a normally quiet student infuse her voice with emotion, she allowed me to present it to the whole class at the beginning of the lesson. The one she was sitting in.

If that is the only success this unit that may be enough for me.