Today I announced to my class that it would be the last day of review of the entire year. To be using the word "last" with respect to anything related to my first year of teaching sounds almost indescribably strange -- sometimes I found it difficult not to wonder if it would ever end.
The class erupted in a chorus of "ah-WOO! Ah-WOO!" a la 300. For the past two weeks we have started every day with an inspirational movie scene (think the "protect your dream" speech in the Pursuit of Happyness, or the training montage from Rocky that led to my "other people think you're dumb" speech; none have caught on to the same extent as the Spartan battle chant). Today's clip found Mel Gibson as William Wallace bellowing about freedom, and, folks, I can relate.
He's the easiest person to take seriously.
The California State Test -- the culmination of my year of teaching -- is on Monday. After that, I get 5 glorious weeks of teaching whatever I want. Free at last.
So, because my chief complaint about the biology standards is their unnecessary focus on minutiae, our final unit will be "The Biology of You." Nutrition (since my students think that Hot Cheetos is a food group), sleep (because my students think that video games are an appropriate substitute), sex (because my students think that standing up is a form of contraception), and finally, bioethics and bioengineering (with a discussion of my favorite topic of all -- resurrection of the dinosaurs). For their final project, students will have to perform a science project on themselves; e.g. "does caffeine help me do better in school?" or "will writing down all my negative thoughts make me feel better or worse?" Oh, and thanks to the generous folks at DonorsChoose, we're going to dissect sheep brains.
I started teaching because I wanted to make science relevant to my students, and, as I reflected about in my post about standardized testing and data abuse, to show them that science is a process that anyone can practice, not a collection of vocabulary and facts. That is nigh impossible in a standards-based classroom. I also swore that I wouldn't neglect my top students, which is hard to do when a good teacher is defined as one who brings a "C" student up to a "B."
But for one glorious month, I can be exactly the teacher I want to be. Ah-WOO!