What the kids had to say about TAP…

July 30, 2010 at 11:13 AM 2 comments

It’s taken ages to get up the courage to look, sorry for the delay. Karen and I were a little fried at the end of the year when we gave this survey through our schoolwires web site ‘tools’ function. You can also use http://www.surveymonkey.com for free surveys.

This is the second year we’ve done a survey. As a result of student input, we increased the amount of labs and hands-on, we made sure we didn’t make any last minute changes to project rubrics by reading through them ultra-carefully before distributing them. We also got outside more. That’s a major objective for next year (although not so much with TAP).

A couple of things to remind myself before looking at the results – kids always want less homework, fewer tests, more labs and to go outside more. And it’s a really good idea to note the positives rather than being crushed/cross about negative comments. That they are  desperate to get to vacation on the second to last day, so expect some silly answers (like ‘fred’ and ‘bob’) plus some flaming. (As a result of some flaming last year, we did tell kids that if they really flamed us, we could track their answers back. It really did hurt our feelings BUT of course, we also want their honest, constructive critique, which we emphasized.)

Because we had been doing journals all year, where every week, students wrote how they were and what they were learning, I felt like I had a pretty good finger on the pulse, plus they could see that I did react to their input all along. That meant I wasn’t that worried about survey results (but still a bit!)

Bad news first, or should I say (and mean) “Improvement Opportunities”? (Filtered for my students only.)

* Only 55% more curious than at start of year, the rest are same or less. (I’ll be emphasizing ways to pique their curiosity and questioning next year.)

* 41% thought that science is OK, only 63% like or love learning science. (Honestly not sure what else to do about this right now. Sigh. The ‘drill down’ is in the rest of the survey I suppose. Will continue to try to talk LESS and listen more, make more student-centered labs, go outside more.)

* 58% can only sometimes (or not) spot bad science and errors in experiments. (Want to compare pre-post on this next year.)

* 10% are really scared and depressed about the state of the world. (Also want a pre-post survey on this q next year.)

Several students wrote comments along the following lines:

More experiments/labs/go outside (we are trying, really!)

More TAP checkpoints (Will have to think about how – we do a weekly journal check-in. Last year we decided NOT to act on this comment because we want students to have some freedom to organize their time, maybe fail and try again.)

More clear, less worksheets. (Always trying to be clearer. Show and post examples. Worksheets are used to reduce time giving directions and make class more activity and student-centered. It also helps us to hold students accountable for some thinking, and it’s much quicker to grade a section of a worksheet than struggle through a binder sheet of scrawl. So probably not going to drastically reduce worksheets.)

Plus the usual less homework, less tests. (Will be continuing to experiment with reducing homework and making assessments more informative, fair and less stressful for our already highly stressed population.)

Stuff to keep and The Good News to end on…

* 90% thought that TAP was the most memorable and helped them learn the most from a list of projects and activities this year.

* 73% are scared about the state of the world but feel they can do something about it.

* 82% think they have the skills to take effective and informed action about any issue they care about.

* 86% feel that being objective and logical (the scientific method) is useful for solving real problems in the world.

* 81% think they know how to find relevant, reliable and unbiased information on the internet.

* 79% say that 7th grade science has helped them plan and think ahead.

Some useful quotes:(exactly as written)

i felt it was nice of the teachers to let kids have partners, and have partners that come from other periods or even different teachers.

I will remember how to manage my time and be a leader

that one person (or class) Can make a difference

That we are related to all of life

not to believe something on a website is right, until you check other reliable sources

The organization skills lesson actually REALLY helped. Defintly project management!! TAP really helped me with that. (Many students commented they learned project management skills.)

Was TAP worth it?

Oh yes! I liked their sense of that they could apply science skills to real life, the sense of empowerment that came through from their posters, their parents comments, their pride at sharing what they’d done.

The energy in the class room, the fact that they were out there in the community thinking outside of themselves and that our community really saw their teens doing that.

This second year through was much smoother than the first time out. I had only one student not complete a project and no big tear festivals – some difficulties arose between partners and families but seems like those were mostly worked out before the deadline.

Clarity of expectations and checking in, two big keys to the better outcome this year.


Entry filed under: Assessment and grading, Data Analysis, TAP Curriculum. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. annemccartengibbs  |  July 30, 2010 at 11:18 AM

    I’m impressed with the comments and results you got. This comment is worth its weight in gold…
    “not to believe something on a website is right, until you check other reliable sources.” Yes!


  • 2. Karen Snelson  |  July 31, 2010 at 2:53 PM

    I was so pleased to see that the kids were so overwhelmingly positive about the TAP Project even though it was a lot of work and problem solving. Makes me want to keep on working on it.

    We are now looking to find out how to make the introductory project, “Grow Something To Eat”, more engaging with planting local food plants at school.

    Karen Snelson,
    Co-teacher with Sue Boudreau
    Orinda Intermediate School



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