My project is a little complex so it’s taken a while to put into words what I am experiencing. My students are engaging in a similar project that we are doing in EC&I 831 with Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt called a Major Digital Project (I added curriculum outcomes/indicators for all you Sask. teachers out there!) Woah, hyperlinks errrrrwhere. I tend to severely over think *cough overwhelm myself* on new projects that I implement in my classes. This has created a system error in my brain and I am trying to break it.
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WHAT DID KOSKIE DO?
I introduced the students to the project on the first day and asked them to think about what they wanted to learn. I decided to have students create a progress post before setting them up on blogs in hopes to not overwhelm students with blogging and the expectations of the project right away. I also wanted to teach how to hyperlink and create an engaging post so I modeled what I hope to see in their first progress post. I do not have a blog hub set up yet and I want students to be able to see each other’s progress posts and comment (this coming in the very near future). It will be interesting to see if students’ writing in private progress posts will differ when they start sharing information publicly. *Please note I am definitely getting students to write on public blogs right away when I do this project again.
I tried to give students the WHY – It’s easy for teachers to make assumptions about what students know. Truthfully, if students don’t see the relevancy of an assignment or why we are using a particular platform to demonstrate our learning, they are likely to resist more. We need to be transparent with the purpose as well as the expectations.
Give yourself the ability to see the future USING PHOTOFUNIA
WHAT WOULD KOSKIE DO:
- Have students engage in a discussion about how and why they use social media and the internet.
- Show some resources that explain the advantages of posting progress online and being able to see each other’s progress. I have yet to set up a blog hub so I am hoping to have these conversations next week.
- Give students choice between choosing something fun they have always wanted to learn or something that is related to their future career goals (I teach Gr.11 and 12). This project is fantastic because it can engage learners who may not enjoy ‘traditional’ English Language Arts classes. Students can use this project as an e-portfolio in the future.
- Continuously reinforce that progress is more important than the end result. Seriously, this is the golden rule. Do this a lot. Think you’re doing it enough? Do it more.
WHAT HAS KOSKIE SEEN?
- I have seen how contagious learning is. Students who were apprehensive to pick a skill are some of the most engaged learners. My students are teaching each other what they discover in class (and soon on their blogs!) Four students decided to learn calligraphy alongside me and are quickly surpassing my skills. I overheard some of my students speaking Spanish to each other in the hallways. This project is quickly proving that every student enjoys learning.
- I have seen how quickly people can learn things once they decide to. One of my students can recite 160 countries by practicing for under a month. What? No worries! He has already come to me with an idea for his next skill and making progress. I guess my week of panicking about students picking skills that are too easy was a waste of my energy.
- Students do not take the easy road when given choice. Yes, some are easier than others and some are harder than I would have imagined. One of my students is attempting to make a full chest piece made of chain mail this semester. Wow. He gave me permission to share his first progress post.
- Students are excited about seeing progress for something they care about. Students have been eager to show me progress on their project. One student explained how he cooked a meal for his entire family and documented the progress. Another student is doing a bunch of stuff that I don’t understand on his car! Cool– I’m no Jedi but I am sensing the Koskie-is-going-to-learn-a-lot-of-things-from-her-students-this-semester force.
Turn yourself into a jedi master using photofunia
(It’s way too much fun. No, they aren’t paying me to say this).
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I TOOK AWAY FROM THIS PROJECT:
5. Valuing progress as much as end products can have an enormously positive effect on learning. Students are not afraid to take risks because they know I am not evaluating them based on whether or not they master a skill. It doesn’t matter if they don’t achieve their goal as long as they consistently document their progress. Something I may or may not have forgotten in this class…… but the force is again strong. I will prevail!
Anyway, I hope this post can help if you decide to integrate a similar project. I will keep updating what I learn and the growth I see in my students.
– Koskie Out