When the going gets tough…
The Sports Project write-ups were due on Wednesday and it’s been a bit of a struggle all round. Amazingly tiring trying to read 120 different projects. Hard on the kids getting it done to deadline, and hard for them to have their work critiqued by each other and then by me. I tried very, very hard to be encouraging, to find the good things in their project first, critique second, encouragement on their way back. A critique sandwich.
Does their hypothesis make sense? What sport? Do they state their measure of success? Uh, usually not. So “I’m going to try using my left hand more to see if I can get better because that’s going to make me better.” is not so far from what quite a few wrote.What sport? Left hand for WHAT? And circular arguments were the rule of the day.
Do they have raw data? Does it map onto their graph? Can you easily read their graph? Lots of trouble sorting out what to put on which axis, and struggles with trying to include several variables on many-striped and completely incomprehensible bar graphs. So they needed help with separating out one variable at a time to see any trends.
Finally, do their conclusions match what their data has to say? This was better. There were some kids who did not make that much progress if at all in their sport and they did admit it. If anything, they tended to underestimate their progress, surprisingly.
There were definitely a few who did a total of 6 trials in an hour and called it done. But some of those were actually rather elegant. Like the guy who tried out a whole load of different Lacrosse sticks with different depths of net for his throwing accuracy, or another who used the sports project as a way to persuade his dad to get him a new golf club by trying out all kinds of brands at the driving range.
Others had done so much practice at dance in particular, that they risked hurting themselves, doing releves on point and practicing the splits. Several found that sit ups helped in almost every walk of life and I can’t argue that. (Abs classes mysteriously really help with climbing. Who knew?)
A student teacher came in to observe and overheard students grumbling about the sports project compared to the toothpick bridge project in the other 8th grade science teacher’s classes. They said it sounded like a lot of fun and they didn’t like all the sheets they had to do with this project. I considered being downcast but then thought about how I feel mid project, in almost any endeavor.
I mean, think about being half-way done with preparing a giant Thanksgiving meal, or oh, I don’t know, Christmas shopping. It’s not that much fun right now. But ask after everyone is sitting around all pink-cheeked and replete, happy to be with friends and family, in a warm house with enough to eat and each other. I love that, it’s so worth it. So along that vein, I’m hoping that when they have made their multi-media coaching presentations and got all the accolades from their friends and me, that they will feel real pride in themselves. I’ll love it too at that point. We’re getting through the lull.
My class visitor was happy that I was holding them to high expectations. It takes so much work to do that, way easier to have play labs and check for completion only. But my favorite quote from Oscar Wilde I think, is “Those who expect the best very often get it.” Worked when I was looking for a husband and that’s enough about that 🙂
Entry filed under: Assessment and grading, Class Management, Data Analysis, Experimental Method, Project Based Learning, The Sports Project. Tags: assessment, coaching, Data Analysis, grading, inquiry, middle school science, middle school science project, OIS, project management, project-based learning, sports science.