"Who would you like to help?" I asked.
"I don't know, but let's look!" the student answered, flipping open her Chromebook to start researching. The other girls followed suit and vigorously began researching organizations. The first question they asked me was "Where do we start? What do we search for?" This led to a good conversation about how to conduct searches and also about finding an organization that would safely distribute whatever we decided to donate. The girls were beyond excited, reading outloud to each other (all in Spanish, by the way!) and sharing videos. Suddenly my shy, silent group was chatting up a storm, shouting out ideas left and right! "How should we decide which organization to help?" another student asked. Thankfully, my teacher-brain kicked into high-gear.
"I have an idea!" I beamed. "What if each group researches a charity of its choice and creates a persuasive pitch to present to the rest of the class? We can brainstorm things that should be included in each pitch and then vote after all the presentations on which organization we should help. And as part of your pitch, you can give suggestions of how we can help."
"Really?!?!" the girls cheered.
"Sure!" I smiled back.
All year long I have been racking my brain for ways to engage this group and bring them out of their shells. I tried dialogue journals, writing and presenting personal biographies, daily conversation about topics of their choice and even improv games. Nothing worked until now. I never thought a non-fiction reading assignment would have led to this level of excitement and energy! When the bell finally rang they begged me to come in so they could keep working through study-hall.
"We will have more classtime on Friday," I said.
"We know, but can we come during study hall anyway?!?" They pleaded.
So they came and worked all period! I can't wait to see what happens tomorrow! Wish us luck!