Sunday, May 8, 2011

Flat Classroom #10: Give Students a Choice

Challenge #10: Give Students a Choice

Do after: Module 5 Choice and Creation
Do: Write a project plan where students are given a choice in their outcome and topic for a project.
If you are in a school: Do the lesson / project plan(s) with your students. Take notes about what worked and what didn’t.
If you are not in a school. Secure potential for a guest teaching spot for your project or share the lesson / project plan(s) with your learning community on a wiki and ask for feedback.
Share: After completing the process, share your project plan on your blog or in a community lesson planning resources like Curriki. If you post it on an on-line public resources, share the link on your blog with your reflection.

I just wrapped up a massive project with my 4th and 5th grade ELP students. It was an 8 week independent study project. I have the whole project documented here

This project was all about choice.
  • Students chose their interest or passion to explore further
  • Students chose who to interview
  • Students chose where to go on location for research
  • Students chose what their display would be and how it would look
  • Students chose to make it as amazing as they wanted
  • Students chose how to manage their time 
  • Students chose everything knowing it would end in presenting to about 200-300 people 
 This project worked wonderfully. This was the first time that we implemented a project of this size. We wanted to provide the elementary students with a project that was long term. They need to learn how to manage their time and work under a long term project. So much of elementary education is short term where tasks are due the same day or next day. A two month project is much different.

Being that we only meet with each grade two days a week, much of this project was on their own. During class we reflected, shared out our progress, and focused on a skill set each week. We also went on a various field trips and activities to promote the Quad Cities.

The final due date ended in a Showcase Night. We brought in projects in grades. The students were able to see all the projects. Each grade was assigned 30 minutes to be at their station to field questions. The rest of the night they could check out the work of others. We also created a movie room to show the videos of students. This was a great sucess.

Looking back I don't anything went wrong. We made changes as needed and worked very hard to keep parents and students in the loop. I held a parent meeting at the beginning. A couple of things for next year would be
  • require all projects to be turned in the week before for us to evaluate prior to the showcase
  • require students to present to class the week prior to the showcase
  • pop popcorn for the movies
  • change the parameters of the project to promote higher level thinking
Overall, this project helped to further support the idea that if we provide students an opportunity to pursue their passions they will blow us out of the water. Grades are not needed when students are full engaged. I could not be more proud of my students. They developed real world skills and in the end showcased all the things our students are capable of achieving.
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