Credo Assignment

This week we’re publishing a series of new Great Ideas From Readers.

Wednesday’s idea comes from Regina Kieran. We met Ms. Kieran and introduced her to The Learning Network at one of The Times’s summer professional development sessions, and we were delighted when, a few months later, she wrote in to tell us about this project.

Do you teach with The Times? Tell us about it.


Teacher: Regina Kieran

Institution:Marine Park Intermediate School, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Grade Level of Students: Middle (sixth, seventh and eighth grades).

Idea: Students write essays and poems about their personal credo, inspired by their study of Steve Jobs. Ms. Kieran was inspired by the project to apply for a DonorsChoose.org grant for iPads for her class, and was eventually awarded six.

Why We Chose It: We like how Ms. Kieran tied together our Student Opinion feature and lesson plans, along with several Times articles, to create her own mini-unit based on a news event her students were interested in.

What Ms. Kieran Did and Why, in Her Own Words

After Steve Jobs’s death in October 2011, my students and I worked on a four-day lesson arc about his life, his nonconformity and what he wanted for the future, all grounded in resources from The Learning Network and The Times.

In addition to learning more about how Mr. Jobs created a multibillion-dollar company that has touched all of our lives, my students explored nonfiction in depth so that they could make text-to-world connections and back up their ideas with textual evidence. They also explored their own beliefs and values, and then created “credo poems,” several of which were published in their eighth grade yearbook.

The four day mini-unit looked like this:

Day 1:
Students read “Reaping the Rewards of Risk-Taking” by Steve Lohr in The Times and then participated in a “pair-share” and mini-debate. They responded to the following prompt:

Defend or negate the following statement: Steve Jobs benefited from taking risks in his life.

Students then completed a chart that looked like this:

For homework, students answered the following:

At the end of the commencement speech, Steve Jobs tells the graduates to “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” What is he calling you as the next generation to do? Why is it important for you to act as he did? Use textual evidence to support your opinion.

Day 2:
Students read “Steve Jobs: Imitated, Never Duplicated” by David Pogue in The Times and completed an organizer that looked like the image below, and demanded textual evidence to support claims.

They then participated in a mini-debate using evidence from the article in which they defended or negated the following statement:

Steve Jobs’s life and innovations will have far-reaching effects on our future.

In a follow-up writing assignment, students discussed at least two ways in which Mr. Jobs was a nonconformist. How did his nonconformity change the world we live in? How will it shape our future? Again, they used textual evidence to support their opinions.

For homework, students responded to the following: “Describe what you think Steve Jobs’s legacy to the world is. What lessons has his life taught you? What might you do differently in the future based on these lessons? Use textual evidence to support your opinion.”

Day 3:
Students read the Student Opinion question “What Is Your Personal Credo?” and then participated in a mini-debate, defending or negating the following statement:

Every person needs a personal credo.

Using ideas from their mini-debate, students wrote an essay of at least three paragraphs in which they discussed the following:

  • Describe your own personal credo in detail. Why are these beliefs important to you?
  • Why do you feel it is important to stick to these beliefs?
  • Do you think your credo will change as you grow older? How do you see it evolving? What actions or events might change it?
  • How will this credo help shape your future and the world?

Day 4:
Based on the essays they wrote for Day 3, students completed a “credo poem” using the format below borrowed from “The English Room: 30 Days of Poetry” – Day 23. Several of these poems were included in our school’s yearbook. Here are two samples.

Assignment: Credo/ I Believe Poetry

In the movie “Bull Durham” Kevin Costner’s character is asked what he believes in. His answer provides us with a poetic format. By following the formula below, tell what you believe in.

BULL DURHAM CREDO
I believe in the _________________________,
the____________________________________,
the____________________________________,
the____________________________________,
the____________________________________,
_______________,_______________,_________________,
But (something you don’t believe in, e.g. “but the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated”) _____________.
I believe in____________________________,
I believe in____________________________,
I believe in____________________________,
______________, ________________, _________________,
And I believe in________________________________. (longest)


Reflections on the Results

As an educator, my students’ interest in all things Apple encouraged me to write a grant through DonorsChoose.org for an iPad2. When we got the first one, one of the first things we did with it was to use it to post comments on a Student Opinion question (“Does Mitt Romney’s High School Bullying Matter?”) on The Learning Network.

Blogging on a daily basis has helped my students in their writing, especially my I.C.T., or integrated co-teaching and struggling students. We found so many uses for the iPad that I wrote grants for and got five more — one for each of our learning stations set up in my classroom. They are a wonderful motivational tool, and are very popular for reading The Times.

Currently, we are working on a collaborative project with our school librarian, who was inspired to write her own grant for a set of iPads to be used by our school. My classes will be using them to create virtual nonfiction books and will be required to use at least one Times article as part of their research.

None of this would have been possible without the resources from The Learning Network. Before connecting with these resources, I never really thought much about Mr. Jobs and his contributions to the world. Now I can honestly say he has changed my teaching in ways I never thought of before; it takes his advice to “Stay hungry, stay foolish” to a whole new level.


Related Content from The Learning Network

Lesson | Connecting the Dots: Mapping Apple’s Development and Manufacturing Process

Fill-In | Tributes to Steve Jobs

Lesson | Sowing Failure, Reaping Success: What Failure Can Teach

Ideas From Readers

Submit your story about how you’ve taught with The Times.

What do you believe? I used to give my high school students an assignment to write about their core beliefs. I provided them with a poem pattern which I got from the movie Bull Durham where the main character played by Kevin Costner explains the credo for his life.  The work my students produced was as thought provoking and inspiring as it was unique. Here are just four of the many great poems I received each year I gave this assignment. I haven’t used the students’ names to protect their privacy. 

I Believe

 I believe in the love of life

The music that shakes my bones

The laughter that throws all cares away

The art of a story

The “second chance” rule

Love as an emotion, unity and forgiveness.

But the idea of war acting as a problem solver doesn’t prove whose right. It only proves whose left.

I believe in what goes around comes around

I believe in fantasy as my reality

I believe in plaid pants

Mismatched socks, groovy tights and acid washed jeans.

And I believe in saying how I feel about something no matter the crowd,

 No matter the crowd

I Believe

I believe in the importance of education

The smell of an old book

The sound of children playing

The evil in all of us

The good in all of us

Struggle, climax, resolution

But the belief that some people aren’t as good as others is just plain stupid

I believe in ethnic and religious diversity

I believe in equality

I believe in tolerance

Religious rights, racial rights, gay rights

And I believe in humanity.

We are sometimes blind, arrogant and cruel but we will come through for the greater good of all before the end.

I Believe

 I believe in the importance of teamwork

The ability to play together

The mental discipline to win

The patience to practice

The effectiveness of hard work

My baseball bat, my glove, my helmet

But the idea that it takes a whole team to win is sometimes a frustrating thing to accept

I believe in beating the opposition

I believe in my coach

I believe in my fellow players

Confident but not cocky, keeping my head up, winning gold

And I believe in myself. I need to set a good example both on and off the field.

I Believe

I believe in the strength of fear

The way time passes slowly

The idea that people want to be loved

The courage it takes not to wait

That poetry is not just for lovers

Selflessness, spirit and privacy

 But I don’t believe in the possibility of not caring about others, especially once you know them

 I believe we were not meant to be alone

I believe that it’s okay for boys to cry sometimes

I believe that everyone has a dirty little secret

Sharing with friends, helping enemies, and loving God.

 And I believe that even when we think tomorrow may never come there is always hope for the future.

What would your I believe poem look like?  

If you liked this post you might also like……….

Poetry and Teenagers

Where I’m From

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