Image courtesy of D Sharon Pruitt.
If you have been reading my blog, you might remember that I had written about a student I was having trouble engaging in one of my English classes. He is a farmer and his belief is that English class isn’t important for his lifelong goal of working on a farm. You may also remember that I engaged my cousin (a farmer) in a dialogue about how to help this student and his suggestion was to teach what he’s interested in and I took his advice to heart.
My student is very into hunting and his family goes for a couple weeks every year to hunt mostly moose but also deer in Northern Ontario. In my English class we had just finished reading a novel about wilderness survival and one of the summative tasks was to research any aspect of surviving in the wild and create a short presentation for the class. This particular student was not engaged by this task until I told him that he could create a “how-to” project demonstrating successful hunting skills.
I was absolutely floored by his enthusiasm for this project! He went right to work and I didn’t hear a peep out of him for two solid days in the computer lab. He used Photopeach to organize images from the internet into a short video explaining how to hunt. He also added captions and one of his favourite country songs to complete the project.
When he showed me the finished project, you could see the pride on his face. He knew he had done a good job and I was so proud of him that I shared his work with his teacher-mentor on staff (the student is considered at-risk) and the vice principal. Both men then congratulated him on his achievement and it has really made a difference in his attitude in class. He also shared it with our class today and I think it was a really great moment for him.
In reflecting on this small success, it yet again reminds me that it is so important to be cognizant of our students as people. This particular student I’m sure has had a rough time in school and doesn’t often receive praise in this building and it really makes me stop and think about celebrating each and every one of our students for their individual strengths. I hope his confidence and self-worth increased with this task as in all honesty, I think that is the most important aspect of his project.