Springing to the finish

Tomorrow I head to Central Mass for Easter with my wife, folks, and sister. After that it's back home to read some essays, tackle this week's assignments for my Evaluation for Educational Technologists graduate course, write a letter of recommendation for a friend interested in becoming an English teacher, and catch the latest episode of Game of Thrones.

On Monday I'll be busy compiling seniors' midterm grades, and on Tuesday and Wednesday I'll assist with the visits of our two finalists to fill the position of principal when our current leader retires at the end of the year. I'll also be putting in extra time to assist my journalism students as they work to create their next issue of the newspaper.

Spring is a busy time in the world of education. It's also an exciting time, as students become giddy with the warmer weather and the anticipated arrival of summer. Before school lets out, though, there is much to be done. My seniors are currently working on in-depth research essays on the subjects of their choice. The topics run the gamut, and include: the science of the Big Bang theory, methods of treating autism in adolescents, the makings of Ray Allen's jump shot, the dangers of texting and driving, and the prevalence of supplement use among high school and college athletes.

Left to their own devices (and with proper scaffolding), students picked some meaningful topics that they all had some connection to or personal interest in. The essay itself involves research, a personal interview, and effective use of both exposition and narrative. It's a variation of an assignment I taught during my two years at Plymouth State University as a graduate student and adjunct composition instructor.

This essay is one of my favorite assignments, as it requires students to do meaningful, scholarly work on a topic relevant to their lives. Helping students think through their theses and assisting them with their research sources is rewarding. The end result generally yields a product that I both look forward to and enjoy reading.

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