The day started well. I worked with a student at outreach on how to write a letter to the editor, and I saw more than a few ideas spark. Another student went out of his way to talk to me, and according to other staff, that was a big step for him. During my break, I sampled some more food. The menu today was scalloped potatoes, spaghetti and meat sauce, and milk pudding. I am a huge fan of cooking, so it was a bit tough to not be overly critical. They are just learning the basics, so it wouldn’t be helpful to point out little errors like they do on Iron Chef.
I made my way to the High School feeling pumped that students are amazing and have really been taking the initiative lately. Complacency has always been something I strive to fight against, and I think it is encouraging when students seek out help or try to do something about their own learning. I was sure that my 10’s would completely embrace the task I set for them today. Ooops.
I had presumed that a new way of collaborating on a presentation would inspire them to dig down and really get into the material. They simply, or what I assumed would be simple, had to research the answers for five questions and compile them into a presentation. This would be an easy individual task that I’ve done with countless classes. However, getting them to do it with google docs really confused the majority of them. There is a wall that goes up with some students when they feel a little lost or unsure about what to do next. It seemed that some of them were driven to distraction instead of facing the task and working through it. Others shut down completely and didn’t even want to look at the screen anymore.
I am not blameless this day. I did purposely step aside for the first part of class because I wanted to see if they could work out solutions together in their own groups. One group was assigned to research the questions and put answers into a google word doc. Another group was tasked with going to the creative commons and finding pictures. The last group was assigned to compile it either into a google presentation doc or into a regular powerpoint. I was hoping that a few of the stronger characters in the class would take charge of each group and delegate or divide some of the tasks on their own. This did not happen. It could be that they were frustrated with the technology, or maybe the class is new, and they weren’t ready to interact as openly as I hoped.
There was a bit of chaos, but there were small moments of rhythm and communication between the groups. They worked on a few slides, but in the end it became a lesson that I will have to restructure next time. I will have to set up groups and divide the smaller tasks for each member and assign someone to make sure all the parts get compiled. I will have to do a mini-lesson on how we get pics as a URL and how to pick out the easiest pics to work with. I will also have to teach a mini-lesson on all the google docs, so they can figure out how to use them with minimal chat distraction. This does change my expectations for a Prezi collaboration lesson with them later this week, but I guess this is just part of teaching/learning. Maybe later on down the road they will be able to just roll into a project without too much prodding from me.
The day did end well with my 11’s as we worked on paraphrasing a poem, but maybe I assuming again. I’ll have to come up with a short paraphrasing project for Friday just to be safe.