Angela is a struggling learner, she shows up most days late for class as she begins her day out at the smoke pit. She sits at the back of the class with her BFF and texts A LOT. She has a full-time job and school is not her priority. She likes to socialize, gossip, she likes to talk hair and Friday nights.
So far this semester Angel has been unable to demonstrate mastery in any unit of Biology 12. She has difficulty understanding what written questions are asking and she lacks confidence as a learner.
Around October we did a little show and tell project in class about “DNA in the News”.
Students choose the requisite article (ie they jumped through the hoop and played along with me) and then had to share what they got out of the article in a format of their choose. Well quite frankly looking back I cannot for the life of me remember one of the articles or topics that was presented in class. I think one was performance enhancing drugs in sports and another the dangers of GMO foods, but overall there was no big lasting impressions, no light bulb moments.
Except for…..you guessed it Angela’s.
She choose a Ted Talks by renowned paleontologist Jack Horner, in which he describes how he is trying to reactivate ancestral traits of dinosaurs in chicken DNA (if you have not seen it Jack Horner: Building a Dinosaur).
Well it was like Angela WAS Jack Horner! She got up in front of the class and she owned the topic, she explained that topic, she loved the topic! And we all loved listening to her….
I would have never ever have recommended Jack Horner’s Ted Talks to her, I would have thought (incorrectly) that it had too much detail and was too challenging. Never would I even had imagined that she would be remotely interested. Not only had she watched the Ted Talks, understood and communicated the concept behind the science but she had also searched out and read an article about the topic because she was so interested!
It was a magical transformative moment listening to her and seeing her with a light in her eyes and such enthusiasm in her voice. If you have worked with dis-engaged teenagers and have had such a moment you know how powerful they are. You don’t forget them and they guide you on the often darkened path towards how to inspire students.
Angels is a struggling learner. She shows up on time for most classes. She sits at the front of the class with her BFF and texts sometimes. She likes to talk about Friday night, hair and biology. She is particularly interested in paleontology and likes to watch Ted Talks. Angela comes in at lunch some days to prepare for tests. Angela has rewritten every test this semester and has demonstrated mastery in every unit.
Angel doesn’t want to learn, write her off and move on.