Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Day 65: Projects and Projections
Several students thought that a pocket pack of tissues would hold 170 tissues. We have some work to do with estimation. The students, however, are VERY receptive to it and want to do more, so I count that as a plus!
I'm working more on providing students with choices of what they wish to work on. So far, I've found that when given the choice between doing an assignment or not, they often choose not. But if I give a choice of three or four, they will pick and work on something fairly well.
In an effort to get students to show me what they know beyond the confines of a test, I'm starting to flip through Hands-On Math Projects with Real-Life Applications by Judith and Gary Muschla. It's a book that I've had for years, book marking several projects, but haven't done many. Eventually, I'd like to be able to hand the book to a student and say "Pick one!" But after my recent experience with projects, I'm going to have to ease into that.
So I'm starting off with two that allow students to demonstrate knowledge and creatively express it. For the first set, students can either design a math poster, or design a math lesson. I told that they can earn extra points for picking topics that have not been covered yet. In the future, I think I'll require them to do topics that we haven't covered.
Halfway through the class, I realized the mistake I made. I should have assigned topics, at least for the first project. I ended up spending a large portion of my time helping students narrow down topics to something poster-worthy, or making sure they weren't making another version of the posters that were already on my wall.
At the same time, I'm not sure that I should care. I would LOVE for them to produce something original and creative, but I think it's unrealistic to expect that of everyone right off the bat, especially when they are unaccustomed to demonstrating knowledge in a non-traditional way. Some of the students/groups came up with some interesting ideas while others had to be encouraged to do something more than "how to multiply."
I think this first one will be graded within the rubric I gave them, but generously. I want to foster a sense of freedom of expression and I'll hope that it will expand outward from there, getting students to produce better and better things as the year goes on.
The room is more chaotic than I am comfortable with. It makes my skin crawl slightly even though I know it's a part of the process. I want the kids to be sitting in their desks, quietly working on their projects, quietly discussion strategy or style, but that's not them. They are loud and boisterous, like I am.
Sometimes, this is what learning looks like. I need to do a better job of letting go of the reins while still making sure that students are doing what they need to.
This job is hard...
Plus, I've come to the scary and inevitable conclusion that I'm doing too much too soon without sufficient planning.
Seriously, I have no idea what I'm doing.
I thought I was casting multiple nets in the hopes that I would catch something, but it's starting to feel like I'm chumming and taking a nap while the fish eat...