Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Projects: Mid-Point Status Check

Confession. Once upon a time, in the early days of my teaching, I use to assign a project when I need time to "catch up."

I would create some kind of project, usually that involved drawing/illustrating something, that could take 2-3 days, just so the kids would leave me alone and I could sit at my desk and grade papers, send emails, and take care of other "things" that always seem to pop up.

I am now older and wiser...

Today I proved just that.

My 8th graders are in full swing of their archaeology dig project. This is a long-term project that ends with the students presenting their findings to a team of judges. With this project there are LOTS of "real life" lessons to be learned. Teams create a working contract, use resources provided to them, make daily goals, keep track of the work they do, and are tasked with trying to develop self-management skills.

Self-management skills are H-A-R-D for 14 year old students to develop. There are so many things that can distract them from accomplishing their goals. But it is a skill that we must develop. So I sort of "leave them alone" so they can figure it out. For a bit...

Other than checking in with a are things going as I make "rounds" around the room, I try to give them some space to figure out their roles, a timeline for progress, and using the resources I provide them. Some teams and students are good at this. Most aren't. I let them try to figure it out, I let them struggle a bit...but I'm not going to let them fail the project because they were going off in the wrong direction. Most groups need a redirect, and they got that today.

Today we had a mid-point "status check." I went around and had a little meeting with each group. In this meeting we discussed their progress so far. If they were behind, I gave them tips on how to divide the work to make up for some of that loss time. If they were missing key requirements, I shed light on that. If they need some formatting tips, I show them some things they can do to help the "look" of their presentation.

The most impressive group of the day! TWO THUMBS UP!

Talk about VALUABLE time spent! So much progress was made today by each group. Some realized they hadn't been following the instructions at all, some saw simple things they could do to improve, others asked questions they've been "thinking" but felt silly coming to me to ask.

Now that I am older and wiser, my projects are much more in-depth and require higher thinking skills. This means that I can no longer just sit at my desk and catch up on paper-work. I have to be moving around, involved with their progress, observing, guiding...but still allowing them to develop. It's a process, and one I'm still improving on everyday.

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