Meet Kenneth, a Typical URBAN ACT Student
Kenneth is an URBAN ACT Academy eighth-grader who has been at the school since he was a sixth-grade student. He arrives at school before breakfast because he likes to get there early to eat, complete the challenge problem of the day for extra credit, and socialize with his buddies before advisory.
As he walks through the doors, he quickly takes off his hat and does a shirt check to make sure that he is ready for school.
Ms. Livingston, the principal, greets him. “Good morning, Kenneth.” He smiles back and says, “Good morning” as he tucks in his shirt, not even needing the gentle reminder Principal Livingston was about to give.
As Kenneth walks into the cafeteria, Mr. Pitt, our dean of school culture, greets him with a high five. “You doing all right today?” he asks.
“Yes, sir, I’m ready,” Kenneth replies, thinking about the neatly folded note in his pocket.
Just yesterday, Kenneth, Mr. Pitt, and Ms. Jones, Kenneth’s math teacher, participated in a restorative circle to repair harm. Kenneth wasn’t prepared for math class yesterday but didn’t want to miss basketball practice to stay after school and finish his work. When Ms. Jones gave him an admission ticket for after-school academics, Kenneth ripped up the ticket, and further disrupted class by stating he wasn’t going to miss practice when he had already done the work and could bring it tomorrow. Ms. Jones promptly got the class back on track, whispered quietly to Kenneth to not mess up his progress, and stated that the two of them could address his actions during lunch, along with Mr. Pitt.
During the restorative circle that Mr. Pitt facilitated, Kenneth reflected on how his actions had a negative impact on Ms. Jones and his classmates. Kenneth suggested that, to make it right, he should complete the work after school as Ms. Jones had asked, apologize to the class the next day, and miss a second day of basketball practice to volunteer to help Ms. Jones after school.
After breakfast and before the tardy bell, Kenneth makes his way to his advisory classroom to begin his Community Circle work. Mr. Simmons was his advisor in seventh grade, and he was happy to continue to work with him as an eighth-grader. They start Community Circle with a temperature check-in, and reflect on how well their group is following the guidelines in their journals. They each write one value at which they believe they are excelling, and one value in which they could demonstrate improvement.
English Language Arts (ELA)
After advisory, Kenneth transitions into ELA instruction with Mr. Simmons. He loves Mr. Simmons’ English class, as well.
Mr. Simmons picks the most interesting books for them to read. They don’t always seem to be interesting to Kenneth at first, but the more they discuss the books in class, the more they pique his interests. Today they are starting to read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, one of Mr. Simmons’ favorites. Mr. Simmons frames this as a riveting story about a righteous lawyer and the racially charged trial of a black man. Kenneth is intrigued, especially since they were going to be able to speak with a few lawyers and tour the statehouse as they read the book.
Kenneth remembers his mom joking during one of their learning team meetings that he should be a lawyer because he likes to argue. He didn’t mind the joke, but thought if he did become a lawyer, it would be because justice is important.
After their reading and discussion of the first chapter, Mr. Simmons asks students to spend some time planning their upcoming projects. They will have a choice in creating a book-report blog, a graphic organizer of the story, an oral report, or a diorama. Kenneth loves to build things with his hands, so he spends the last 10 minutes of class thinking about how he will go about creating his diorama before the class is dismissed.
Kenneth has math class after ELA. He walks in confidently, ready to read his sincere apology to the class for yesterday’s disruption. Some members of the class clap when he finishes, tell him they accept his apology, and remind him, in a lighthearted way, not to let it happen again.
Kenneth smiles and returns to his seat. Ms. Jones promptly starts today’s lesson, walks by Kenneth’s desk, and whispers, “thank you,” before moving on to check another student’s work. They have a lot to do to prepare for the next benchmark assessment in two weeks.
After reviewing the initial independent assignment as a class, Ms. Jones prompts students to begin their rotations. She pulls four students to the back of the classroom to work on previously identified areas of support. The remaining students move to different parts of the room to complete independent or collaborative work.
Some students work independently on computers or at their desks, and a group works collaboratively to solve a multi-step challenge problem.
Today is Kenneth’s turn on the computer. He works diligently because he is very close to completing his next goal in math and wants to be able to report that on his Individualized Learning Plan and at his conference next week.
After math, Kenneth heads to lunch. At lunch, he gets to sit with friends from his advisory class. Thursdays are his favorite because that means pizza and the salad bar, of course! He wonders whether a new vegetable or fruit will be available to try. Many of his friends weren’t too impressed with the lychee nuts last week, but he enjoyed them.
Kenneth’s next class is science. He hated science at his last school because his teacher always lectured, showed boring PowerPoints, and had the students take what seemed like endless pages of notes. In Mrs. Williams’ class, they get to conduct experiments and make observations like real scientists. He smiles at the 88 he received on his weekly quiz. He’s sure that he is going to have an A this quarter in her class, or maybe a B+.
Math Intervention Class
Kenneth’s last period of the day is Mr. Miller’s math intervention class because he needs the extra support in math. The class specifically targets the skills with which Kenneth needs the most help. At the end of the week, when he shows progress and meets his goals, he and other students who do the same are recognized at the eighth-grade town hall meeting.
During town hall meetings, sometimes guest speakers come in to talk with them about leadership and the skills that made them successful. It’s cool when students are recognized at the end of the meetings in front of the guests.
Kenneth makes sure to ask question about one of the homework problems he struggled with, so he’ll be prepared for their weekly assessment in class. He is anxious to see how much his score will improve since last week.
At dismissal, instead of heading to the gym for basketball practice, Kenneth grabs his belongings and goes back to Ms. Jones’ room to assist her as promised. Ms. Jones shares some leftover fruit from her lunch, and they sit and talk for a few minutes about Kenneth’s growth and the progress he has made this year.
Ms. Jones encourages Kenneth to keep making good choices before she has Kenneth clean her whiteboards. After Kenneth finishes that task, Ms. Jones releases him early so that he can attend the last 30 minutes of basketball practice. Kenneth is grateful for her generosity and quickly heads to the gym to meet his coach and teammates.