Tuesday, January 29, 2013


My students have spent 20% of the last semester's class time preparing for their so called "20% Projects."  They reflected on what they achieved and learned in that time, had some failures and/or had projects turn out not quite in the direction intended in October.

At close to the last minute, I surprised them by saying I had invited the whole district by sending an email to all the faculty in the district inviting them to bring their students if they were not taking an exam (our school has students come in for a full day during exams, so students such as those taking fitness that period are not responsible for an exam).  I also told them they would be presenting in our auditorium on the stage (our stage is small; it's meant for presentations rather than drama productions).  Not many took the call, but our building's supervisor did come for some of the presentations as well as a few other teachers.

From their presentations, they learned a lot.  The student who went first wrote a program.  His original intent was to write an app for Android devices, which didn't happen, so he said he failed.  This student also said he learned how important it is to do some research on a project before committing to it--had he know how much time and work went into writing code (his program had something like 1000 lines of code in it), he probably would have gone in a different direction, but he felt he learned a lot by taking on the process too.

Another student presented on her research on creating an animal sanctuary.  She spoke with folks at different levels of sanctuary (from small animals to big cats) and learned about how non-profits work and expressed that this is what she wants to do with her life and is very happy she started the process now because she realized how much money and work goes into it.

Other reflections focused mainly on the process of the project rather than on the learning from the project itself, which I found very interesting!  My goal was to have them learning about something that interested them and turning it into a TED talk, but they seem to have learned a lot about the process of a big, inquiry type project, which (I hope!) will serve them even better than learning about something that interests them.

As has happened so often with this group, the audience asked questions so presentations ran longer than our allotted time (100 minutes for 8 presentations SHOULD have been enough!!), so we are lucky that we have another hour of class time to finish up the remaining ones.

The grading rubric for the project can be viewed here.

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