Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Challenge Met!

While I am somewhat anxious about the full blown challenge projects I launched with my seniors in October -- They have frittered away time and a couple of groups have bounded off in the direction of the expedient and superficial -- the results of my modified challenge with the sophomores are in. And the results surpassed expectations.

The students engaged in a challenge based learning project called "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death". This challenge involved

*Selecting a liberty from the Bill of Rights and researching it.
*Designing a multi-media web site.
*Presenting a slide show to peers tracing the group's process from inception to solution.
*Engaging in detailed self-assessment of their process.

*The students did not use the web site as a "text dump". Even the most modest creations were multi-media.
*With only about thirty minutes of instruction from me, the groups avoided "Death By Power Point."
*Every single student in three classes participated in the presentations, and the vast majority did not read to their audiences. The slides were graphic, and bullet points were used judiciously.
*While less universally achieved than the first two highlights, many groups engaged in honest, constructive self-reflection through their presentations and/or rubrics.
*For the most part, students tapped into each other's skill sets and shared responsibility.

I've created a project exhibition site for our school's digital newsletter. If you would like check out a couple of exemplary sites, click, below:

Click to Visit Student Web Sites and Gallery

Larry's Learning Curve
* I intend to create a similar assignment, next semester. I will start the next one earlier so that I can better help the kids work through the process (no need for more time on final products, but more time to focus properly on researching information and options.
* This semester I spent a day going over the entire process . . . . and unsurprisingly when the students reached the later steps, my explanations had receded from memory. I will definitely go over these on an as-needed basis, next time.
* I will put even more emphasis on setting goals and self-assessing. Most groups did a great job on this with limited tools.

I'm looking forward to another go round in February.
Screen shot of "Cruel and Unusual Punishment" sophomore challenge based learning solution.

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