Practically what that looks like is this: in the month of October there were five Thursdays - two of them were given to specific departments to run activities that would span more than the average class period of 45 minutes. Instead, the English department was allowed to plan a variety of day-long activities on October 9 and the Science department did the same with October 23.
Since these days are ideally used for deep research and work or connecting with experts in the field, these two departmental EL Thursdays are great examples of how it works.
For the English day on October 9, I was a part of a the group focusing on 12th grade English Language Arts (ELA) that took our students to view the documentary Underwater Dreams as a part of a unit on designing personal narratives. The students watched the film at a theater in Manhattan and later debriefed its plot and how the stories of the characters can help them craft their own narratives. It was an inspiring conversation, despite taking place in the loud and busy Washington Square Park.
For the Science day on October 23, I was part of the group providing Physics classes time to complete some much needed data collection and analysis. We had a rotation where students were calculating speed in a variety of ways - including using kit-made catapults as well as timing how quickly a ball is thrown through a designated distance. The students also had time to prepare lab reports and get ready for presentations of their work.
As part of the math department, our EL Thursday is coming up on December 4th. While I had little started for my Algebra 1 students besides the idea of analyzing patterns of art in math, I am trying to connect my Finance class to local banks and an expert in Microsoft Excel so that they can learn the tools of the trade and be better analysts for their own money. It will take a lot of effort, but I'm excited to see the fruits of this labor. Stay tuned for the outcome!