Two weeks ago, we officially wrapped the second successful year of The (K)indred Experiment. I am, once again, a little behind on tying off all the loose ends. There were stories read, maps shown off, and a slightly wonky batch of galaxy cupcakes consumed. Overall, a good send off for the year.
I’m pleased with the way the condensed version of the program worked. As I told the students before they shared their work, I’m enormously proud of how much effort they put in and how much they learned. I threw a ton of information at them, not always in the most coherent of ways because I’m still experimenting with the Experiment myself, and they took it all in without complaint.
As I’ve been re-reading and copy editing their stories in order to put them up online I’ve been struck by the similarities between them, even though they really did the bulk of their writing on their own. I gave them no guidelines beyond “create a planet” and “create a protagonist and antagonist.” Last year, my jumping off point of a crash landing seemed to stifle some creativity, so I gave them free rein, theme-wise, this year.
But still, across many of them are common ideas. There are large jumps in time, evil animals controlled by god-like antagonists, and, most interesting to me, pickles.
Like last year, there are some thank-yous that need to be shouted out to the people who made this possible.
First, and most importantly, to Mrs. Avila, their classroom teacher, for agreeing to do this again with me, for helping guide the kids through their stories, for asking the important questions, and for being my voice when I’m not loud enough.
Second, to the students who decided to undertake this Experiment with me. You guys were great. Thank you for all your hard work, enthusiasm and love of snap peas. Please keep writing and reading and creating.
Finally, to the parents who allowed their kids to stay after school and create alien planets with a perfect stranger. Thanks for picking them up on random Friday afternoons, and coming to hear their stories when they were finished. That meant a lot to me, and I’m sure it meant a lot to the students, too.
Please do click over to the Student Projects tab at the top of the page and check out their stories and maps.
Lesson plans and the worksheets I developed are also available to any educators who might like to try their own Experiment. Help yourselves. I would welcome some peer review. I have misplaced my digital copy of my Hero’s Journey handout, but I’ll get it up there eventually.
There are definitely some things I’d like to tweak. My goal for the coming year is to find some very short fiction so that I can add the always planned, and never executed, reading component to next year’s Experiment. There are some small wrinkles in the lessons I’d like to iron out, too.
Overall, I’m very happy with how this year turned out, and I’m looking forward to trying it again next year. Stay tuned. Happy New Year!