Re-discovering online ‘gems’ …

Tonight I am feeling excited about putting the finishing touches on a PBL-style activities matrix for Year 9 novel study. (Haha, mouthful – gotta love edu double-talk) I’ll try to continue this blog post using Orwell’s ‘clear prose style’ and avoid turning into a machine or a dummy!

This task is something that has been gestating in my heat-oppressed brain for many, many months … since I had the pleasure of visiting SCIL at the invitation of Shani Hartley. My job this year is to ensure that we have up-to-date programs for Year 9 English. Because these students are netbook kids I’m having a bit of fun with the task. Problem is that the programs must be accessible for teachers who are not familiar with technology in the classroom or who may resist using it. At SCIL they use a form of learning matrix (based on Blooms Taxonomy and Gardener’s Multiple Intelligences) that gives students the freedom to direct their own learning. It was great watching Year 5/6 students confidently directing their own learning based on their perceived ‘learning styles’ (something that has not surprisingly come under fire by a team of academics led by Hal Pashler, see here). My prac student last year used a form of this matrix with mixed success.

My matrix blends the 5 elements of fiction (plot, setting, characterisation, themes and writing style) and gaming elements (I think, I dunno cos I’m not a gamer so don’t feel confident with gamification … maybe soon) and ICT-based individual and small group tasks. The whole thing is to be completed by a small group of five students within a given period of time (no duh, huh? lol). There are 25 different tasks to complete – each task ranging earning the students between 2 and 10 points. (Aside – many of the tasks have been adapted from a great teacher book, Ignite Student Intellect and Imagination in English by Sandar L. Schurr and Kathy L. LaMorteĀ  (2009) ) Students get ‘completion’ points and ‘success’ points as well as possible ‘bonus’ points for presentation.

Here’s a look at the matrix:

My biggest challenge was creating rubrics for EACH one of the 25 tasks. That’s a LOT of effort – no one really wants to do that, huh? But I remembered a web tool I had been shown years ago – rubistar. It’s such a great tool, literally saving HOURS of time for teachers! And even better – it’s PERFECT for Project Based Learning where students often complete smaller investigations and products on their way to meeting a bigger challenge/answering an over-arching question. I am SO glad I typed rubistar into google tonight on a whim. Already I have created five really effective student and teacher friendly marking rubrics that will ensure my students know what is expected of them for each task to achieve maximum points.

Hoping that the teachers in my faculty like it and don’t think it’s just another example of ‘mental Bianca’! Oh, and even more importantly, I hope our students enjoy the tasks that have been created for them.

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One thought on “Re-discovering online ‘gems’ …

  1. Hi Bianca, this sounds great. What do your bigger tasks look like in your matrix? The ones worth more? So some of these tasks where individual and some completed in groups? Doing a bit of planning these holidays and looking at starting PBL in my classrooms maybe….. Thought some of these ideas would be great for a novel study in Year 7

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