I've thought a lot about the "Star of the Week" that the four-year-old classes have implemented at the preschool. I've wondered if middle and high school teachers could capitalize on the practice, which values individual differences, highlights out of school literacy and learning, and encourages parental participation. In professional development workshops I've held this semester, I've asked upper school teachers whether they thought "star of the week" could be adapted for an adolescent classroom. A few nodded their heads. Most balked, saying that the teens would not want to be on display and that parents would not participate.
I run into resistance a lot in the work that I do, so I wasn't surprised by the negative reactions. I was encouraged, however, by the nods of those few teachers. After visiting the four-year-old class in May, I am even more convinced that we need to find a way to bring "star of the week" into the ELA classroom. As I watched the teachers individually assess and instruct that day's star, who was in charge of leading the morning circle each day that week, I realized another advantage of the practice: it allows for, and encourages, the individualized work that many students need.
I haven't quite figured out how to do "star of the week" in an adolescent classroom, where admittedly the students are often resistant to being center stage and the stakes socially and academically are high, but I think there might be a way. I think we could learn a lot from the preschool setting.