OK, so I’ve been interested in the ‘student voice and choice’ thing since connecting with fellow DEC teacher Neil Farra. He has been working hard to transform his students’ perceptions of school and learning with his Project REAL. He’s having great success and I’m sure it’s a project you will hear more about in the future.
A little while back I had a bit of a teacher existential crisis after chatting with Neil about his ideas about education – you can read my lamenting here. Whilst hindsight tells me I was wrong to get so stressed about my PBL, I have been looking forward to the time when my Year 10 class are ready to begin taking a more active role in designing our projects.
I’m taking it slow because I don’t want to overwhelm my students and force them to regress back to the safety net of spoon-feeding and passive learning.
First of all, I gave my students a lesson in crafting a driving question. Using my whole class instruction method I reminded them of the purpose of a DQ and the driving questions they had already tackled this year. I explained the focus of our current project (looking at representations of the individual and authority relationship in texts), showed them the outcomes for the project allocated by our faculty and told them about the final product (a short film text) and presentation. I then showed them how the Tubric can be used to assist in writing a question and gave them a tubric sheet and a piece of A3 paper on which to draft their own DQ. You can see a video explaining the Tubric and DQs below:
I gave the students ten minutes to write a DQ in self-selected teams. During this time I went around to each group and gave assistance and feedback where necessary. After 10 minutes each team hopped up in front of the class and presented their DQ. Whilst they presented I typed each DQ into an edmodo poll. Once all presentations were over, students went and voted for their favourite DQ. Here is a screen shot of the poll in process so you can see the students’ DQs. I was really pleased with their questions!
After a bit of negotiation we selected this as our DQ:
How can we make a film for an online community to change people’s view on individuals and authority?
The second element that I wanted to introduce student autonomy in was team arrangements. I had students nominate peers they believed would be good team leaders. I asked them to post their nominations as a direct post to me on edmodo. I then selected five of these nominations to be team leaders and posted their names to the class’s edmodo group wall. Students then were to select a team leader they wished to work with and post this selection as a direct post to me on edmodo. This worked OK but we had quite a few students absent from class for this activity. (NOTE: Today when the students returned I got them to put their name up on the whiteboard under the team leader names. It worked pretty well but I think it would have been better to continue with the private edmodo method to avoid any awkward situations where students felt obliged to select their close friends over more suitable team leaders. Looks like there is still some unlearning to go for Year 10!)
Alright … so that was my introduction to student-voice in PBL. It was pretty good, I thought.