Check-ins with projects…
are so important, and so hard to do. Over 100 project ideas to understand and approve, while trying to have the rest of the class engaged in something other than writing on the desks, breaking rulers, putting weird trash in the sinks and chatting each other up.
I mean, you gave them the packet with the instructions. Showed them an example. Explained it, demonstrated it. They should be able to just do it, right? In a more project-based school environment, that’s the hope. But that’s not our reality where state standardized test results motivate drill and practice particularly in math.
Students are socialized to be compliant, to do it exactly right the first time. To not take risks. If you do, you get it wrong. Not good. Not a learning experience, it’s just wrong and a waste of time.
Good students are anxious with open-ended projects. They don’t believe that it’s okay to just try it and there’s time to try again. Lots of kids by 8th grade see school as something to be gotten through with as little effort as possible and are experts in the bare minimum. That’s harder to gauge with project based learning which require some engagement. So they sort of resent that.
As I went round every student to see how they had done with their Sports Project so far, I found that most at least sounded like they knew what they were doing. Hard to know for sure as they are experts at convincing covering. But this IS doing something that most of them like. It’s clearly messing with them a little to make school bleed into their real lives.
Also had the opportunity to make a mid course correction with a few who had not fully understood the project aim to make a measurable improvement in a sport of their choice using physics and scientific method.
Had the brainwave to have their PowerPoints/multimedia clips be aimed at coaching younger kids in their sport. There are lots of coaching examples on YouTube, most of which seem of a standard the average 8th grader could surpass. Sort of exciting to have stumbled upon a real use for these presentations.
Enjoying catching up with myself this long Veteran’s weekend. Got the density unit sorted out. How about a lab called ‘floaties and stinkers’? No, maybe not. But hey, I managed not to get all side-tracked with a discussion of the value of stiff building materials for cantilevers. Cantilevers, really another name for.. oh, forget it. Another naughty biology teacher challenge coming on the heels of all the ball-rolling labs and the many, many possibilities for hilarity.