Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Immigration Project Days 5 and 6

My initial thought was that day 5 wasn't what I expected. But Ms. D, my student teacher, helped me see the silver lining, which I appreciate. The project goal was to find another piece of statistical evidence for their claim and most groups accomplished that. The content goal was a quiz and that went ok. So what didn't meet my expectation?

Honestly, I think the problem is my own internal critic. The project launch went really well--like my favorite lesson from 6 years of teaching well. And that set a high standard. Now that I look back on it, Day 5 was really just a 'work day'. It wasn't sexy; it wasn't epic; it was just a day when (most) groups were using their time to look through the data portfolios I gave them and determine which statistical representations best supported their claim.

The quiz was a 4 question quiz on some of the statistics content. There was a histogram question, a question on using a trendline equation to make a prediction. Another question on finding mean, median and range. And a final question on describing the trend in a scatterplot. I struggled with whether to give this quiz or not. However, I needed some way to check individual understanding. I've have feedback cycles built into the unit, but that feedback is for the group and the product. I'll do one more 4 question quiz before the unit is over. The first one helped me see what students need to practice (and I've designed My Favorite Mistake problems as a reteach).

Also, it was a rally schedule on day 5. Which means nothing to you, but is total chaos at my school. We had a rally that day, which meant a special schedule to accommodate a mid-school day rally. The biggest impact for me and students: lunch is at 1pm instead of 11:15am. This is a big deal. Thus, when the students started sputtering and goofing around the last 25 minutes of the class during project work time (right before the very late lunch), I could understand why. They were hungry. So was I.

Day 5 was just a normal day. Work got done. Assessments were taken. High school students were being goofy. And that is ok!

For the day 6 lesson, I was stuck on where to go after day 5.  Groups have claims and most groups found at least two pieces of evidence for their claim. I thought a lot about what to do next (there was a weekend between days 5 and 6). I realized I needed to present a clear picture of next steps to students. And I needed to build in more support for the presentations.

For day 6, I started with a project overview. I showed them a calendar of the next 3 weeks and what I had planned for each lesson in terms of project goals and work time. I also highlighted the presentation date.

I then told students my goal is that they have a high quality product (including the presentation) ready to present to their audience (other teachers, staff, and district admin). I also shared with them the scripts I came up with.

As I was thinking and planning this weekend, I realized students need scaffolding to help them structure their presentation. And my big ah-ha was to use groups roles as the scaffolding.  One group member does the introduction and has a script for that, another group member explains the first evidence (evidence #1) and has a script for that, same for the second evidence and the conclusion. I like this because it adds scaffolding without taking away student choice.

Then, I gave each group member their script. I'm a little embarrassed sharing these scripts on my blog because they are a rough draft. I think this material will look better (and better clarify expectations) next year. This year I am truly making things up as I go along!

I like these scripts (with the caveat that they will be 100x better next year). Again, they provide support while maintaining student choice. Also, the students really liked these and they were actively using them right away. Success!

For day 7, I am going to have mini-workshops for each role. So I'll call all the introduction students from each group over. We will spend about 10 minutes (probably less) on questions, advice, and feedback for their intro. Then, I'll call all the evidence #1 students from each group over for a mini-workshop, etc.

I also let students know there are two individual checkins this week. Rather than check in on content as I did with the 4 question quiz, I am going to check in on presentation skills. On day 7, after we do the mini-workshops, my student teacher and I will each take about half the class and have the students read us their part. This will be for feedback only (and only feedback for presentation skills).  We are going to use the following form:

Finally, I let the students know they will present again on Friday. This time for feedback and a grade (like a quiz). I've been clear that I don't expect perfect English and they can read from the script, but they must make eye contact, speak audibly, have good posture (mostly no fidgeting) and show evidence of practice. I think it is important that I'm assessing soft skills as well as content skills. So much feedback for the students! 

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