Friday, April 2, 2010

Staggering, Stumbling and Bumbling

I imagine that often this sounds like a tech cheer-leading platform. If so, today, I'd like to offer a corrective. Let's reflect together on some recent things that have not gone particularly well:

1) Blogging on Vlogs. I required many more video blogs this year from my A.P. students than last year. Recently there have been quality control issues. I recently rejected two of them because they were inferior. In both cases the students merely read a script with little understanding and less originality. I like the free-wheeling aspect of this activity, but I guess I will have to set some minimal requirements next time. I also have already decided to reduce the number somewhat.

2) While I have developed schemes for making my group project members more accountable to each other, I haven't made progress improving their time management skills. Recently two groups fell quite short of expectations in building their wikis. They had good ideas, but they simply could not get their acts together in order to create their media. If I impose strict schedules on the groups I am taking too much control away from them. If I nag about deadlines, the main result is stirring up anxiety rather than activity. This is a real head-scratcher, because I am up against the procrastination issues I discussed in a recent post.

3) At their best, the challenge projects allow the groups to exploit the special talents of all members. But there is a downside to this as well. It's common for group members to allow others who already know how to make slide shows , movies, etc. to do all the tech work for the group. Adults would do the same thing of course, but I would like to see the students try new tools. Again, if specific requirements are laid down I interfere with the group dynamics and create a prescribed exercise-- not good.

I'll come back to these issues with some new approaches, next Fall. In the mean time, if you have any suggestions. . . .

"Wipe-out" flickr Creative Commons photo by Mac Sokulski


WillKnott said...

This, of course, is not the fault of technology. This is part of the intellectual ambience of Mercy High School. There are some things technology simply not change. One is procrastination; the other is the tendency of high school group work to result in a few followers and one or two do-ers.

Larry Baker said...

I am deeply concerned about the procrastination issue. I recently gave my AP students several weeks to watch a documentary and produce a podcast critique. Their deadline was Wednesday, 11:59 P.M. At least a third were sent within a couple of hours of the deadline with an assortment of panicky technical issues. Utterly ridiculous, yet this is the modus operandi at school.

Based on my presentations outside of school, on CBL, the group thing is in no way specific to MHS. I also have made some real headway on group accountability. It involves some micromanaging (which I am inclined against), but in my last group project go-round all "she didn't do her share" issues were resolved withing the group. No post-project complaints from students, counselors, parents, etc. I will post on this after my big M-Hub roll-out! (I'm such a dweeb-- devoting most of my break so far to this stuff).

Ann Lusch said...

Procrastination and the group work dynamic are specific to the human race. I got tired of students waiting until the last minute, so I have been imposing more deadlines to get them thinking and acting earlier. You're going to have to do some convincing, Larry, to make me think it's too restrictive. Maybe, just maybe the experience will help students to parse and plan projects on their own in college. But I wouldn't bet my life on it.

In some group projects, I tell students they will turn in at the end a list of "who did what" signed by all parties. When I implement that I rarely get complaints.

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