Skyping with superheroes :)

Wouldn’t it be awesome if you clicked on this blog post and saw pictures of my students skyping with Ironman or Batman? Yup, that would be so rad. Sadly, that is not what you will see, although maybe one day I will do my best to make that happen. This blog post is about different kinds of superheroes, but super super, nonetheless.

My year 9 gaming class love gaming. The don’t just game, they proper game. They’re like super serious gamers who are devoted to their chosen consoles (OK, we have some PC fanboys as well) and their chosen franchises. I really have discovered that I am WAY out of my depth with them. Seriously, being able to name a few video game titles (“Oh, Skyrim, yeah, I love the khaajits the best!” or ‘Isn’t it cool when you finally get to the Nether in Minecraft?”) just doesn’t cut it with this crowd. To be honest, I thought I’d at least win the respect of my girl gamers (yup, I’m an old school sexist who assumes girls only play SIMs) but no, they out game geek me times a thousand with their intimate knowledge of complex narrative-driven games like The Last of Us. Yup, within 30 minutes of the course I was outed as ‘one of those people’ – yeah the non-serious gamer people. Sigh. Luckily for me, I have connections! A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to have a young uni student, Gerard Altura, attend my Extension English class’s website launch. He is currently doing his honours project on video games in the classroom and asked to use my class for his research. Sweet! I bagged an expert without even going to any trouble finding one!

Last week Gerard happily agreed to Skype with my class about his experience with researching video games. As you might already be aware, I suck at teaching kids how to research. Before our chat, my class generated a bunch of questions to ask Gerard and they nominated Will to be their spokesperson. They had some great questions about research (like, ‘How do you do it?’ lol) and of course they wanted to know what his favourite games are. This last question resulted in the most heated, intense discussion I have ever seen these 28 young people involved in. It included a couple of students walking out and slamming the door (Gerard isn’t a PC gamer) and a couple of our girl gamers swooning because Gerard’s favourite ever game is The Last of Us (yes, I’d never heard of it before). The lesson ended with the class telling me it was the best lesson they’d ever had and with them gifting Gerard with the name ‘Gee-Dawgs’. Hilarious.

photo 1The following lesson we Skyped with my mate Kelli McGraw. Kelli is a gamer. She might not game ‘the serious stuff’ but she takes the light games seriously… I hope that’s a fair assessment, Kelli? Kelli provided my students with so much quality information about research – I totally felt like a noob when she was talking! My favourite line was, ‘Don’t research something you really love because you’ll end up hating it.’ Haha – oops – too late! Once again, my students were fascinated by her favourite video game – Guitar Hero – and were very excited about her suggestion for them to play an augmented reality game that can be bought from Google Play (name, Kelli? I forgot – see, I’m so not a gamer!).

photo 2Both Kelli and Gerard saved my hide, truly. OK, it’s true that they outed me once again as being an epic gaming noob, but that’s cool. What they provided my students with was the impetus to take their research seriously and to see that a love of video games can lead to a full time job, haha! I know that we will be calling on both again soon, especially since we’ve agreed to take part in the research of both, lol.

Skype. It’s easy. Use it and find yourself some superheroes!

Teaching students how to research is hard, really hard

The last two weeks I’ve been trying my hardest to help my year 9 Game On class learn how to research. I must admit, I’m not the best researcher in the world (I totally suck with google – Boolean has me beat!) but I do have my head around the basics, enough to have completed half of my Masters of Education. If you’ve read some of my posts about my gaming class, you’ll know that their first project is a research project about an aspect of video games that fascinates them. You can read their project here. Basically they need to research their topic, write a research report about it and then convert this information into an engaging YouTube video for an online audience. Sounds straight-forward… until I complicated things by trying to get my students to research like researchers and not like high school students.

Why did I not want them to research like high school students? Well, cos I didn’t want a copy and paste project that infringed all sorts of copyright laws when put up on YouTube. (Disclaimer: this still may be what happens cos I suck so much at teaching research skills.) Anyway, I got carried away searching the web (like a high school kid) looking for stuff someone else had created about researching (which then probably infringes on their intellectual property, oh the irony) and basically I found myself at a teacher happy place where I had heaps of resources that I thought were awesome and would be heaps useful for my students. Then what I did was, I modified them to work for the project my students are doing, and shared them with my students via edmodo. In the end I had a word document of 11 pages and a PPT of 16 slides that students could use as a scaffold for their research. Instead of just saying, ‘Off you go and research!’, I gave them a list of required source types and scaffolds for how to write up their findings from each source. I also created a scaffold for their video game analysis. What I asked of them was this: 2 x web sources, 2 x video sources, 2 x print sources, 2 x video game analyses and 1 x original research (interview, survey, observation). To me, it seemed perfectly achievable. Somehow along the way I seemed to forget that these are 14 year olds who chose this elective because they like video games. I mean, really, what was I thinking?

To make matters worse (yes, worse) I didn’t give them an example of a completed scaffold (duh) and I didn’t really explain how to reference in text… cos that’s what the scaffold required (e.g. ‘According to —- in —-’. So, really these kids had a massive document in front of them and just over 5 lessons to fill it in. Add to that, I suggested they use ‘google scholar’ to find print texts – eek! So there I was telling 14 year olds to read academic articles about zombies and voice actors or the representation of gender in video games. One student complained loudly to me, ‘Miss, this is way above us, we can’t even read the words. It’s too hard!’ What was my witty response? ‘Well, young man, now is your chance to improve your vocabulary.’ Yeah, I know, I wanna punch myself in the face as well. I was, however, stoked to see them generating surveys and interview questions about their topics, and using their peers as their subjects. Of course, I haven’t actually taught them what to do with the data when they collect – I just don’t think I can go there with them, it’s too mean. They’ll work it out on their own, right?

Last Friday my students were required to submit their literature review – yeah, that’s right, I’m such a wanker that I had my students call their research summaries ‘literature reviews’ – and I’m pretty sure less than 70% of them actually managed to submit it. I’m unsure about the quality of the work I will find in the ones that did get turned in. Ultimately, however, I’m proud of my students for their resilience – they just kept on trying to learn how to get it right. They knew the work set for them was really, really hard and probably well above them. In fact, it probably killed their fascination with their chosen video game – oops. I do hope that next week, when they get to write up their responses to their research questions (and their sub-questions) in their own words, that they draw upon at least one or two of their sources to support their ideas. I hope that they love the creative process – making their YouTube videos – more than the critical inquiry process of researching their topic. I’m pretty keen to see what they produce, in fact.

So, this post is really just me trying to articulate the difficulty I had with teaching students how to research. It also will serve as a reminder for me of what not to do next semester when I run this same project again with a new bunch of year 9 students. I’ll learn from my mistakes, right?

The importance of reading aloud to teenagers

I teach a novel study with every year group, from 7-12. Novels, after poetry and drama, are the backbone of literature. Despite once being shunned by the elite as being trashy and trite, the novel is very much considered a valuable art form today. Unfortunately not everyone enjoys reading novels – especially, it seems, teenagers. Don’t get me wrong, there are many teens who LOVE to lose themselves in a good book, but there is likely equal numbers (or more?) who don’t.

Over the years I have realised that setting a novel for students to read on their own, quietly in class or at home, is just unrealistic. Most students find it really hard, simply because reading a novel is not something they do often. I’ve found that reading a novel aloud to students actually engages them more in deep and critical thinking. We have some wonderful conversations about characters, motivations, style, plot etc. It was great to read on the English teacher’s Association facebook page that a lot of other teachers are beginning to use this strategy as well. Nearly always the experience of being read to engages students more deeply in the narrative and encourages them to want to read other novels in the series, or of a similar genre/style.

Here are a few tips that work for me when reading aloud to teenagers:

- SPACE: I must admit that I’m a little unconventional in how I approach our read aloud sessions, my students sit together in a large circle and I read to them. The ideal space is more flexible than my square room with 30 square tables and plastic chairs, one with comfortable furnishings etc… but reality is that tables moved to the edges of the room and chairs pulled into a circle works well enough. This allows my students to be inadvertent role models for each other – if most students are focusing their attention on their books, so will the rest. It also makes our discussions more intimate.

- TEACHER VOICE: I always read to them. I ask students who want to read to have a go, and those who are confident and competent readers will put their hands up and have a go. Primarily, though, this is a listening, following and thinking activity. It’s obvious, but make your voice interesting to listen to – put on different voices for characters. There’s lots of research that has gone into the impact of reading aloud to children, it has massively positive impact on learning and success. I reckon it’s just as relevant to teens as children.

- VISUALISING: I talk to my students about ‘turning on the little video in their brains’ (a strategy stolen from my former HT) to help them visualise what is happening in the narrative. We like to talk about what everyone is imagining, especially when not too much description is given of a character or setting. I use questions like, ‘What colour hair did he have?’, ‘What was the lighting like?’ ‘Was it rainy or sunny?’, ‘What did (character) look like when (character) did (so and so)?’ Of course, these questions are always followed up with every teacher’s favourite question, ‘Why?’ I love asking that question.

- COMPREHENSION STRATEGIES: I am a big fan of the Super Six Comprehension Strategies. I introduce these slowly to my students – one each lesson. I talk to them about the importance of understanding what you read, really ‘getting it’ to the point that you can critique it or have a long conversation with someone about it. The Super Six are: monitoring, visualising, questioning, predicting, summarising and making connections. I use a lot of post-it notes based activities to assist students in mastering these strategies. You can read more about these activities on the SSCS PDF here.

- LEARNING MATRIX: This sounds more fancy than what it is. It’s basically a table that we fill in as a class. Most often when we set a novel as a text, we have a focus question, theme, concept or task in mind. It’s very difficult for students to focus on a theme/question/concept/task at the same time as trying to understand and appreciate the narrative they are reading – especially when it is a long or dense novel. With my students we break down our focus into four or five parts, and then as we read we take notes (as a class) on what we have identified that is relevant to each part. So, in year 10 my students are reading ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ to help them answer the driving question, ‘Why do English teachers value literature?’ They have to write a personal essay answering the question, with reference to their teacher’s favourite book and why she might love it – yes, that’s right, Catcher is my favourite novel. In order to help them make connections between the novel and their task, we use a table with headings like ‘narrative techniques’, ‘significant moments’, ‘literary quality’, ‘life lessons’. I allocate a student a scribe and he/she copies our class constructed notes onto an A3 table. This will become a reference point for my students when they write their essay. This isn’t a ground-breaking, innovative strategy, but it does help my students acknowledge that they are thinking and learning as they read.

So those are some of the main strategies I use to support successful reading aloud in my classes. I find that the first couple of chapters of a novel can be quite a turn off for teens – especially with classic novels – and it definitely helps to read these together as a group and discuss how the author is developing character, setting and plot in these important initial stages of the narrative. Maybe you might only want to read aloud the first few chapters, or like others suggested on the ETA fb page, get an audio book and have students listen to key passages and then quietly read others. What are your thoughts on reading aloud to teens? Do you love it or loathe it? Do you have some cool strategies you can share with me to make my students’ experience of being read to even better?

 

My students are getting their game on!

If you don’t already know, this year I am running an elective course for year 9 students all about gaming. Pretty cool, huh? It’s part of our critical and creative thinking elective courses that were introduced for the first time this year. You can read more about my course, Game On, here.

Well, it’s almost been a week since our first class and I’m really stoked with how they are going. OK, well to be honest, I think initially the students were a bit surprised to see that an English teacher is running the course and not a multimedia teacher. They were probably more likely disappointed than surprised. When I introduced them to the course website and a quick overview of the four projects they will work on for the semester, they still didn’t seem very enthused. One girl even asked when she could transfer to another course. Sigh. I think they were expecting a course where all they did was play and make video games. Oops. They were happy when I got them to set up the Xbox, haha.

During our second lesson together I wanted to hook them into the first project – a research project. You can read through their project here. I used three videos to get them thinking about video games in a more critical (read ‘theoretical’) way and to see models of what they will ultimately be producing. The first video proved very controversial – and of course it would, it’s a feminist talking about the poor representation of women in video games. I really love the video, and personally agree with the observations about the way women are shown. I guess the class of 20 boys and three girls didn’t agree, lol. Even one of the girls was against the video. Feminism has a long way to go in the 21st century. Here’s the video:

After a bit of a discussion about the video – and lots of defending of franchises etc – I showed them another video. This one referenced the first video and focused on the representation of men in video games. It was really nice to get both perspectives and for my students to feel that they too may be harmed by the gender stereotypes represented in many video games. Here’s the video:

The last video I shared with the class was on violence in video games – a super sensitive topic for most teenage gamers who often get their gaming hours/choices limited by parents as a result of concerns relating to animated and interactive violence. I particularly like this video as it gives a nice historical perspective to violence in games and reminds viewers that video games are not alone in their representation/reliance on violence for entertainment. Here’s the video:

Despite out rocky start, once my students deepened their understanding of the research project, they began to generate some really exciting and interesting topics for their research. I’m so keen to see their ideas develop and even more keen to see their final reports uploaded to our YouTube channel. You can get a feel for their genius by perusing their research project topics below (in their own words):

why music in games are so important

game developers

Voice actors and why they’re important

my is on feminism and girls in games, mainly Princess Peach

why do people watch other people play games when they have the games themselves

I am thinking of doing Game making

Should video games be made to look more realistic (virtual Reality) or should they be kept to a point where people know its a game?

Competitive gaming

how Acting jobs are opening up with video games, for example, In games such as:
* La Noire
* GTA V
* Assassins Creed Revelations
* Assassins creed Black Flag
All of these games use real actors, so basically my topic question is
“Are real world actors the future of video game designing?”

gta5 violence

why are mobile phone games so popular

a podcast about the history of the elder scrolls

I’m doing gta5

Evolution of a particular game

Iphone games

the best and maybe scariest zombie games

open world

Building bridges and learning about team work

One of the things I always tell people when I do PBL presentations, is that it takes ages for students to learn the skills to be really good at project work. It’s pretty foreign to them to spend the majority of class time working collaboratively with their peers. School just isn’t designed for collaboration (the furniture tells us that) and therefore they find it hard to get out of the routine of sitting and listening… um, passive learning! I like to spend the first week of school giving students the opportunity to develop/sharpen some of the skills needed to be a successful team member.

There’s heaps of suggestions for team building activities online, just google ‘ice breakers’ and you’ll find heaps. When I was looking for an activity to help my year 7 experience the difficulty of team work, I used the lazy person’s google – twitter. I was recommended a cool website that lists heaps of hands on team building activities by Kyla Uribe:

Screen shot 2014-02-03 at 7.59.03 PMFrom the site I found a cool activity that has students working in small teams to create a 1metre bridge from basic materials – you can see it here. I didn’t have many resources at home, so I decided that students could only use 2 x A3 pieces of paper, 5 large paper clips, a blob of BluTak and two strips of sticky tape. I tweeted out my plans to get feedback from my peers,

Screen shot 2014-02-03 at 8.02.04 PMWithin a couple of minutes I received a great tip from one of my twitter colleagues, Bryn Jones. His feedback changed my strategy for awarding points:

Screen shot 2014-02-03 at 7.58.55 PMI also decided that I would have students complete the activity as a mini-project, to help them become familiar with my discover/create/share approach to PBL. I created a quick project outline – complete with driving question – for the activity. Our driving question was ‘How can we make a strong one metre bridge from simple materials?’. I don’t have a copy of the project outline at home right now – I’ll try to post it up tomorrow. Essentially it explains the task and telling students how they will earn points.

Students were given about 30 minutes to design and build their structures. When the time was up, I went around and ‘tested’ each bridge using the different weighted objects – a lead pencil, a whiteboard marker, a pair of scissors, a calculator and a stapler. I was surprised that all but one bridge survived the weight of the objects put on them – these kids know how to design! That meant all teams but one were on the same points. I also told students at the start that I would be awarding a bonus 5 points to the team that works best together – everyone contributing to the goal of the mini-project. That mean one team was out in front by 5 points. Finally, I took a photograph of each bridge because points will be awarded for attractiveness. That’s where you come into play… I told my students that I would share their designs on Twitter and take a vote on which bridge was the best looking. They were only allowed to use the basic materials given… so bridges with writing on them don’t get considered for the bonus points. Below is a photograph of each bridge… we’d love your feedback on which you think is the most attractive!

photo(27)photo(31)photo(30)photo(29)photo(28)I REALLY enjoyed this activity, and so did my students… you could hear a pin drop in the room when we were testing each bridge! My students will be writing a paragraph reflection on their experience of working in a small team to achieve a shared goal. I think they learnt a lot in a very short space of time!

photo(33)

 

Resources for running a PBL workshop

I have given many, many presentations on Project Based Learning and I’ve run just as many workshops with teachers about Project Based Learning. Over the years, I have worked out what seems to be a pretty effective way of sharing my knowledge, experience and resources related to PBL. I know teachers really like getting resources and access to the presentation materials, so this post aims to make the resources I use for my presentations/workshops accessible to everyone whenever they need them – online is way better than paper. A bunch of the text is copied from a previous post about ‘managing the mushy middle’ of PBL. Hope you find them useful!

Here’s the latest iteration of my PPT presentation. It looks at the WHAT, WHY and HOW of PBL. The final few slides are the workshop tasks that participants work on – it’s a mini project.

Goals/Medals/Missions: I’ve written heaps about this in the past. This is a formative assessment strategy developed by Geoff Petty in response to the research of John Hattie and Black and Wiliam. You can google their names and find out cool stuff about assessment if you so choose. I use GMM in three different ways to help support my students’ learning. Firstly, as a daily learning reflection method. Students keep a simple journal in the back of their workbooks where they record their personal goals, medals and missions for that lesson. I don’t use this with all classes, all of the time. Often I forget. I am human. Secondly, I create checklists for the product being produced (poem, performance, speech, essay, story… whatever) with students identifying what must be included. This checklist becomes their self and peer assessment tool and students identify M&Ms at the bottom of the document for the work they assessed. You can download an example here: personal-essay-checklist. Thirdly, at the end of a project, I collect students’ individual project folders and I give them M&Ms for the skills and content I was targeting for that project – e.g. collaboration, presentation, creative thinking, knowing poetic devices, essay structure, narrative techniques etc. Always give more medals than missions – super important tip! I like the image below of GMM by Petty:

Screen shot 2014-01-23 at 10.09.35 PMTeam contracts: When I first started doing PBL, I thought these were completely naff. I didn’t use them for years. Now, I think they’re really important documents for my students. Signing that piece of paper means you’ve committed to your team. It means that if you fail to do your bit, your team can justifiably by annoyed and there can and will be consequences. You can get a good team contract from the bie.org freebies section. It’s always best if students create their own contract, of course. This is one from BIE that I give to my students: K5_Team_Contract

Project Management Log: This is another BIE document that I ignored for years in my attempt to avoid paper in my classroom. Just recently I’ve discovered the power of a management log whilst working with my Year 9 students. It takes time to fill this document in, but it is really worth the time. Like the team contract, it allocates responsibilites to each team member, but it also helps students to become more independent each lesson as they have direction in their learning. It’s as much about time management as it is about role/responsibility allocation. You can get a copy of the project management log document from the bie.org freebies section. This is the one my students use: Project_Management_Log

Learning spaces and metalanguage: The best project classroom is going to be a flexible space. I know we don’t all have those rooms with cool bright furniture on wheels, but we all do have access to open spaces like ovals and quadrangles. Make the most of them and get your kids outside when it’s appropriate. A great tip I stole from the peeps at New Tech High is using staircases as presentation spaces – the audience sits on the stairs and the speaker/performer stands at the bottom. This is the type of creative use of existing space necessary for a successful project-learning class. As you know, I think metalanguage is powerful and have adopted the names of spaces used at NBCS, inspired by an essay by Thornburg. You can read about my thoughts on metaphors for learning spaces here. Here are my posters for the FOUR spaces that you can print off and use in your classroom:

Slide4 Slide3 Slide2 Slide1Project packets: The term ‘packet’ for a bundle of worksheets it so American – we just don’t use it here in Australia. When I say ‘packet’, I mean ‘packet’ in the Aussie sense – a bunch of stuff in a container. For me it’s an envelope of documents. Of course it doesn’t have to be an envelope (I bought plastic document wallets for 50c each at Officeworks), it can also be a plastic tray or a plastic sleeve folder. It is one packet of information per team. It contains only the essential documents required for project success: project management log, team contract, project calendar, project outline and supporting documents to guide them through the inquire, create and present cycles of learning. These stay in the classroom in a central space that students can access each lesson. They don’t go home – if they did they’d never return!

Project walls: A project wall can be physical (an actual wall space in your classroom), or virtual – online somewhere like a weebly, glogster or blog. It is a space for key project elements to be shared. It’s similar but different to the project packet. It keeps students focused and organised but also showcases the learning that has occurred so far. Essentials for the project wall are: project outline, driving question, student-generated ‘need to know’, project calendar, key project vocabulary and the lounge roster (in-joke, lol!).

SOLO Taxonomy: This is just another strategy to help students self-assess and monitor their learning. I’m not a SOLO guru but I know there are heaps of them online, so go find and follow them. Our mate Tait Coles is the gun when it comes to incorporating SOLO into a project-learning-style classroom. I really like SOLO and my students have had great success with it. Their honest self-evaluation can be enlightening and terrifying for teachers. Great posters can be found on Pam Hook’s website: http://pamhook.com/free-resources/downloadable-resources/ This is the poster that I use as it has the verbs for each level as well: HOT-SOLOTaxonomyPoster_Verbs

Punk Learner rubric: This is a piece of genius created by the aforementioned Tait Coles. He created this rubric with his students and passionately encourages you to steal the idea of a punk learner rubric, but to create one with your students instead of just using the one him and his students created. It’s all about context and significance. My Year 11 students used this rubric to self-assess post half yearly examinations – as with SOLO, the results are enlightening and terrifying! Here’s a JPEG of Tait’s rubric:

punk-standardsTeam work rubric: Similar to Tait’s Punk Learner rubric, this is about students self and peer assessment to start a conversation and reflection about their contribution to team goals etc. I had a great time creating a team-member rubric with my Year 9 class after some students failed to be effective team-members in the previous project. You can download pre-made rubrics from bie.org freebies page which is a great place to start.

Blogging: I think getting your students to start blogging really allows you to follow their individual experience of each project. It’s such a cool way to get into their heads and can be extremely enlightening! My Year 11 students have successfully used the think/puzzle/explore blogging protocol this year. You can read about that protocol here.

Need to Know: This is essentially a list of questions that students decide that they need to have answered. You can use a KWL table for this or just get them to sit in teams and generate a list of five things the definitely need to know in order to be successful with the project. This is a kind of sneaky activity because often you (as the teacher) know what kinds of things they will identify – but that’s what differentiates the typical classroom experience from the PBL experience – it’s about students identifying what they need to know and how they will discover that. I love putting these questions up on the project wall and returning to them each week to monitor learning – students like being able to cross questions off the list and it helps them see that they are learning. Here is an example of a partially completed KWL table from my year 9 project: KWL-TABLE-yr9-fantasy

Project outlines: This is something that I have developed over the years of PBL trial and error. I think it’s really important to give students a handout that provides them with an overview of the project they are to work on in class. I like to joke and say it’s like a flyer advertising all of the awesome learning they get to do, lol. I have mastered a style of project outline that clearly breaks a project into three distinct learning cycles: discover, create, share. You can read more about that and see examples on this post: 40 fantastic projects. Here is a proforma for using the DSC model for projects: PROJECT PROFORMA I have used a range of other structures for project outlines in the past, see these for examples: POETRY IS FREEDOM-2 RESILIENCE.WRITERS yr10-macbeth-assessment-2012

Project calendar: I think this really is a PBL staple. It’s so normal and expected in the ‘real world’ (love that phrase cos it makes me laugh, is a school an unreal world? lol!) that we plan our projects, that we look to the future and organise our time in advance because we want to be successful and know that we need to negotiate time, money, space, people etc in order to be successful. I love the BIE project calendar – you can’t beat it. Download it from the bie.org freebies page. Here is an example of a completed Project Calendar from one of my class project: PROJECT CALENDAR

Rubrics for products: I wouldn’t say that these are essential. After years of doing this PBL caper, I’m kind of getting suspicious of rubrics. I find them too prescriptive and constrictive. But that’s me coming from a place of much experience with using them in the classroom. I personally think that students don’t like using them and they don’t use them well. A check-list is better. If you are going to use them, create them with your students and make sure they are written in student-friendly language. You can use Rubistar to find pre-made rubrics as a model for what you and your students can create. I used a rubric created with my students for assessing rap-battles earlier this year. You can see it here.

Formative assessment strategies: You need HEAPS of these, and really a number of them are in this list anyway. Be creative with your formative assessment – use a variety of online, face-to-face, recorded, team and individual formative assessment strategies to provide your students with feedback on their learning. I wrote a post once asking for people to share their favourite formative assessment strategies – maybe you’d like to add to it? Today I came across this g-doc of formative assessment strategies via twitter: G-doc.

Some theory: It’s always nice to read a great article that supports or encourages your decision to try something new in your classroom. There are lots of great articles available on the BIE.org research page that are worth checking out. This is one of my favourites: Main_Course

Evaluating your project: There are different expectations that people have for projects. One of my main requirements for a true PBL project is a public audience and real-world application of learning and product. This can be hard, but it makes the project so much more engaging for students. Continual reflection on your practice and honest evaluation of the projects you create will make the learning experiences even better for you and your students. Use these two project rubrics to evaluate your projects before you run them with your students: pbl_outline_checklist project-rubric

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 82,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 4 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.