One of the really great things about my school (there are many wonderful things...this is just one!) is that we have Intensives following our first and second trimesters. Intensives are week-long courses which students take and which fulfill a variety of requirements. For instance, if a student fails Humanities (which is what I teach...and yes, unfortunately, students do fail sometimes) then they have an opportunity to take either an English or a Social Studies Intensive in order to make up half of the Humanities credit. If a student fails Math or Science, they take an Intensive in the same subject and receive the entire credit for the course. If students pass all their classes, then they have the opportunity to take an Intensive in a subject that interests them, or that they would like to learn more about. They receive elective credit for this.
Sounds a bit strange, I know. I was not a fan of the concept of Intensives...until I taught my first one last year. For my first Intensive, I partnered with another Humanities teacher and we split the course by gender: I had the high school girls, and he had the high school boys. I was dreading the week. I was going to have 20 girls (who had all failed Humanities that trimester), aged 14-18 from 8:10-3:40 for five days in a row, in one classroom, all by myself? Yi, yi, yi. It sounded like a drama-fest in the making.
Well, it wasn't. That week of Intensives ended up being one of the best weeks of my entire teaching career. Although we had our fair share of drama throughout the week, we ended on such a positive note and developed an amazing literary community throughout that week. We focused on gender studies and creative writing (with some help from the phenomenal Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver) and we discussed and analyzed and applied ideas to our own lives and we wrote and critiqued and revised and performed. Those girls opened up to one another in a way I did not think was going to be possible, and they let each other into their lives and truly accepted one another and all the baggage and junk that we each carry around. The week concluded with a reading of each students' best work from the our writing workshops and some truly great pieces were shared. (I have a video of the final performance and I'm going to try to get it posted so you can watch it! Stay tuned...)
This year, I am changing it up. I will again be offering an English credit Intensive, but I'll be opening it up to both boys and girls (sad, but it must be done!) and we'll be...blogging! I'm so excited to see how it will end up shaking out. We'll be focusing not only on writing (both fiction and non) but also on technology skills and blog creation. I love that they'll be writing for a real audience and I'm even hoping to showcase a bit of their work on Blackboard Kitchen.
Many of my students have very limited computer experience and so this is going to be something entirely new for them. We'll be working on basics (like typing and word processing and even creating email accounts), as well as the more advanced stuff that goes along with blog creation and management. It is going to be a busy week with lots of stuff going on, and I can't wait. Once again, I am partnering with the fabulous and always generous Lighthouse Writing Workshop, which is sending me a pro-blogger with an MFA in Creative Writing to lead a few sessions. I'm also hoping to pull in a few other folks from the blog world to speak with my students about various blog-issues, including post creation, writer's block, blog-promotion and internet safety. (Do you know anyone who would fit this category? I would LOVE to talk to them, if you do!!)
The world of blogging is a big one and it is one that I feel will greatly impact my students as they learn how writing can benefit them in a world outside the classroom. If you, my internet-savvy friends, have any ideas/suggestions for my course, I would love to hear them! (And I will definitely be keeping you guys posted on the progress of my Intensive...get excited! 😀 )