Fanfare for Failure – the big TAP learning experience…
Realized that I didn’t make the big deal out of Plans A, B and C that kids mentioned as they reflected on TAP… Thanks to Barbara, my dear sister-in-law for reminding me about this!
Failing is something they usually don’t have time for in crowded curricula, mile wide, inch deep, textbook and exam driven. Without failing, you can’t take the risk that being creative entails. Without the time and permission to fail and try again, you have such a sharp edge that you get frozen and can only take the safe way. AKA The Bake Sale! We really do need to help open up ideas on that for next year!
A poster-girl for taking some risks with an unusual topic (declining bee populations) and way to raise money (decorating pots with native plants to sell), then making last minute improvements too for a 60/60, by far the best work she has done all year.
Nearly blew right past this amazingly different project that took up BP’s challenge to help them plug the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Seriously, started by marking him down for an unrealistic idea, until I read it more carefully later. You can numbed from bake sales..
The biggest, most painful ‘fails’ were with team work gone wrong. Where one partner did nothing, lied about it and tried to totally piggy back on the other’s poster. We had two notable cases that we are still trying to resolve. The put-upon partner, boys in both cases, had enough courage to say ‘no’. One had logged it all and actually found satisfaction in doing that as the full extent of the piggy backing and cheating became apparent to him. But both boys are probably looking at a spoiled friendship. I guess they found out something about their ‘friend’s and about themselves.
We heard from a couple of girl teams but both resolved the issue between themselves and their families and did not have us help them. They seemed to have preserved their friendships, very impressive.
This year, there were fewer team work problems that we heard about than last year. Perhaps because we were clearer about directions, time lines and expectations. Confusion and stress that comes from that often seems to breed conflict.
Other most common ‘fails’ were scheduling conflicts at the last minute with family emergencies etc. and with failure to get permission from ex. Safeway to hold a bake sale or petition signing outside. Parks and rec. also were difficult for kids to deal with. In both cases, students had to do the scary cold call to an adult. Great practice. I hate it so much, I STILL have not got my US Citizenship because of a bad case of Beaurocraphobia. I notice the ‘crap’ in the middle of that…
Parents reported that projects started off with a very grandiose plan A and ended up being scaled back to a much more manageable plan C in the end. Another parent reported that a ‘fail’ that kids didn’t notice was being on their cell phones while trying to fund raise. We may do some marketing/fund raising lunch seminars next year to help them with that.
What are some big fails that you have learned from? Share some stories!
Entry filed under: Assessment and grading, TAP Curriculum. Tags: assessment, creativity, failure, grading, middle school science, middle school science project, OIS, PBL, project-based learning, science ed, service learning, TAP.