Thursday, April 24, 2014

What did I get myself into???

This is the question I have been asking myself lately.  As you can see, I have not had much time to post about what we have been doing.  But...we have been working hard, and learning so much.

A lot of my students are struggling to find platforms for their products or creations.  Some of it is due to laziness, while others just don't know how to navigate the web.
I myself have found it very time consuming to locate and curate resources.  While there exists infinite sites and apps, the uses for each particular product are finite.  Figuring out which works best for a particular product and audience is proving to be a challenging  part of this endeavor.
However, we are moving forward.  And I am hoping to curate a somewhat specific list..if time allows.

I have watched a lot of my students blossom and find a new sense of ownership in their work, as well as a new sense of identity as a student.  The evolution of this student identity has been very interesting to watch.  I have a student who feels very passionately about the topic of discipline vs. reward within the school system. He is usually very vocal and has no problem writing essays, but he has struggled to find a way to send his message out into the world in another format.  He wants desperately to write, but I have challenged him to push his boundaries.

I had a discussion with one student yesterday who had changed her topic.  She had a wonderful topic that she felt very strongly about, but she had no confidence in her ability to change her own voice/tone.
 "I don't think I can say this in a nice way.." she said.
"What!!! This is exactly why you are doing this.  This is what you have to learn to do.  This is a life skill.  So  do it.  Here, and now.  Not when you are in an interview and blurt out something that sounds crass or antagonistic."

What I have seen is that they are being forced to be an active participant in not just their learning, but their own thinking.   The student if forced to consider ideas/topics from so many angles.  This PBL has really flipped the script on their cognitive process.  So much of what they are used to is the standard sit and get method.  Which I did for a long time, and I totally get.  The older method is what I knew and what I learned, but this method is so much better!!!

This Friday the students will conduct their first peer critiques.  I am anxious to see how this goes.  One of the things I have noticed while working on this unit, is that the students' soft skills just aren't there.  I began the year addressing active listening, effective communication, working in teams, etc.  But, these skill were usually exchanged from student to teacher.  I am realizing that in the beginning of the year I need to have them work together to right away.  Looking back I know that I feared a lack of control and had a fear of how "messy" it might look.  However, I have done my students a disservice by asking them to use these skills before they have had a chance to fully develop them.

1 comment:

  1. I've got goosebumps just reading your post! You are really making great strides toward developing a classroom of active and engaged learners! All learners need opportunities to practice skill sets - we are no different! Love what you're learning about your students and yourself! Thanks for sharing and letting us in on the fun!