Thursday, March 1, 2012

Back in the Saddle with CBL

My AP Government students and I have been banging our heads against our Make a Difference CBL project.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, this is the most abstract challenge that I have dished out.  What is more, I put the students on a pretty tight timeline. I knew all this, but what I forgot is how foreign the methodology can be for the kinds of students who have the academic confidence to elect an AP course.  They have experienced success with conventional assignments, and were pretty flummoxed by CBL's open-endedness and lack of teacher-direction.

At first I was pretty disappointed by how slowly they were rolling into action.  During the initial stage of conjuring up questions about the challenge, they explored the topic in a narrow or cursory way.  I snapped back on their shared Google Docs and gave out some low grades (temporary), which got everyone's attention.  However, I have to say that looking back on it, I took much for granted.  I insufficiently communicated the rigor necessary to truly tackling the challenge.

Last week, I "surprised" them with three prompts and asked them to make a spoken reflection (They had a half hour of class).  The prompts:

1) Single out a team member and explain a notable contribution that she has made thus far to the project.
2) When asked, what would your team members say that you have contributed?
3) What fresh knowledge have you gained from this experience to date?

I was blown away by what I heard: great ideas, terrific research, and impressive teamwork. I am reassured that the girls are on the "right track" (whatever that may be!), and I am excited about the solutions that may be in store.

I thought you might like to hear a sample. Christina has given me permission to share Christina's reflection.

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