This term I am free of Year 12! That’s not a very nice way of putting it. I loved all of my Year 12 students (still do in fact, as they struggle through the last cramming stage of the HSC and ask me for tips, feedback and support) but it is a tough and sometimes dispiriting course. It’s nice to see the back of it for 12 months. This is the very first time in six years that I haven’t taught an HSC class. Last year I had three Year 12 classes; I asked to be taken off Year 12 next year. And as our system works … next year is already here, haha!
My focus can now rest solely on my junior classes. This is something, I feel, that doesn’t happen often in 7-12 schools. It is all too easy to prioritise seniors over juniors. That situation, of course, is like shooting yourself in the foot. Too much focus on senior classes means that the juniors aren’t getting those skills and opportunities that they desperately need in the senior years … we then spend almost a year (all of Year 11), up-skilling students to get them ready for the HSC. Oh dear. I am confident this is a pretty normal picture … I mean, it’s not like we ignore the juniors, but really they just can’t be the key focus when the stakes for the HSC are so high – for both teachers and students.
This term I have devised three epic projects, and if you read my last blog post you will see that my students are just as amped about them as I am! (Note: for those playing along at home, it seems I haven’t learnt from the Year 8 project failure last term as I still spent the holidays planning awesome teacher-created projects for three classes. I guess I’m a slow learner or just stupidly defiant.) So I promised in that last post that I would share with you the project outlines because maybe, just maybe, some of you might want to run the same (or similar) project with your students. I spent a bit of time on these projects, trying to ensure that the (BIE) 8 elements of PBL were covered in each. My big focus is on revision and feedback this term. I am determined to get this right before the end of the term! I think also that student voice and choice is important and so that has been worked in to each project even if it might not be apparent via the project outline … the product and audience for Year 8 and 9 have been determined by me, however the content of the product is entirely up to the students and whilst that might seem like I’m paying lip-service to student-choice, I’m really not. The fact that students feel free to imagine, generate, reshape and then commit to their own ideas and creations is super important and something we’ll be spending a lot of time talking about when we get to that stage of the project. I’m pretty interested in the Design Thinking phase ‘ideation’ (it is SUCH a goofy word, not keen on it at all, but the principle is great). My interest was inspired by Suzie Boss’s reference to Ewan McIntosh in her book Bringing Innovation to School:Empowering Students to Thrive in a Changing World. Whilst I have been known to take on Ewan re: his criticism of PBL, that doesn’t mean I don’t think some of the DT ideas aren’t worth pinching and adding to my projects.
OK, enough crapping on (although thanks to the groovy, personalised, ‘do what I want, when I want’ nature of the Internet, I’m sure you’ve already scrolled down past my blather to find the project outlines, lol) I’ll get to the substance – the project outlines. If you’ve been keeping an eye on my project outlines over the years (get a life! Haha!) then you’ll notice that the format keeps changing, evolving, shifting shape and focus and content. I think that’s completely normal. I haven’t found one ‘perfect’ method, but this one seems to work nicely as a general overview of the project and helps students get excited but also be informed about the project. I think I stole this layout from a Year 3 teacher who I helped to design her first project. I think she may have modified the main layout from one of my project outlines I showed her, haha … I love living in a post-modern world, it really makes things cool.