December 5, 2016
So things have gotten crazy busy since I last wrote; it’s that time of year! In the past month or so, students have completed 2 Choice Boards, done one project, and given me tons of valuable feedback on how things have been going so far. And the verdict is (drumroll, please)…
It’s not working for them. While I’m kind of bummed that this is how it’s turned out, I didn’t know how it would go until I tried. I was super optimistic, the students were willing to work with me, but it just wasn’t working out.
Feedback I received included some of the following:
“It’s too stressful to make sure that I have everything done in time for the Choice Boards to be due.”
“I need more structured practice and more feedback more consistently instead of right at the end.”
“I feel like I’m not given enough opportunities to practice with your guidance.”
“I like that I can work at my own speed at things I know I need practice on.”
Okay, so some of it was positive. But that, in combination with parent emails about the lack of structure/guidance with frustration on their students’ part made me go back to my original setup.
It’s more consistent work on a daily basis rather than everything “all at once” as one student put it. I think that this setup might work better with high school students who are more independent and are more able to handle this type of setup.
As Matt Miller put it in his book Ditch That Textbook, you never know how something is going to go until you just jump in and try. And what’s the worst that can happen? It doesn’t work and you find out what not to do.
So, in conclusion, it’s back to the drawing board, so to speak. Plan A didn’t work, so Plan B, which I know is solid from previous years’ experience, is the new Plan.
So after all that reflection I still want to tell you how my new version of the House Projects went.
In the past, I had done individual projects, which was fine. I had smaller classes and it wasn’t that big of a deal to grade them all. But this year I have bigger classes (think 31-32 kids in each section), so I didn’t want to grade about 80 individual projects. So, after talking to my parents, they gave me an idea of how to make this a group project and incorporate real-world situations/experiences. (See my blog here about the initial ideas; you may have to scroll down a bit to get there.)
The projects turned out great! Students were able to choose their groups, anywhere from 3-5 members. Each member had a role and had responsibilities leading to the final product. There was a visual aid, a written component, and an oral presentation of the final product. Here are some of the amazing final projects that were submitted: