Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Innovation Kick-Off Fall 2013

It's a new school year, which means a new round of Innovation Projects.  I teach a middle school course called Tools for Technology, which is where I implement my projects.  This semester I have a total of four students, which is both sad and exciting.  The good news is that I'll be able to give students more input and guidance along the way.

I have two goals this time around to make things better.  One, I wanted to start things right by helping students select their projects more wisely.  I want the focus to be on creating something to be proud of, not being entertained by something someone else made.  Two, I want to be able to model excellence and help scaffold students along the way.

If you click here and here, you'll see the two documents I had students read and interact with to plan their projects.  In the past, I merely asked students to think of a technical project they would like to do and write me a proposal paragraph. I accepted just about anything and maybe helped tweak the idea a bit.

This year, I've tried to get them to focus more on something they are passionate about.  I also created a contract.  I simply took their proposal paragraphs then added my own stipulations.  For instance, one student is creating his own song.  I added that he would have to write two songs, upload them to YouTube or some such site, then put the links on his blog.  I printed out two copies of the contract.  We each signed both and kept a copy. Hopefully the students will use their contracts to help guide their projects, and this will also serve as the standard by which I judge the quality and quantity of their work at the end.

Here are the projects we'll be seeing this time around:

  • Evan -- Creating eight or more pictures using pixel art and putting them on his site.  Evan is a return student from last year, and I like that I'm seeing some more creativity on this project than others in the past.
  • Max -- Creating two songs using Dubstep. Like I stated above, he will upload these to YouTube or a similar music sharing site and put the links on his blog.  I'm unfamiliar with Dubstep, so it will be interesting to see where this one goes.
  • Mason -- Creating his own web site, though I'm not quite sure of the platform or the content. I'm going to be watching over his shoulder to see what he comes up with.
  • Cole -- I'm not sure yet. You know how that goes.
The second goal I have for this semester's projects is to be a better source of help and encouragement during the projects. The vernacular for that is... I need to get up off my butt and get involved with the kids.  I just need to make it a point to spend a couple minutes with each student every Friday to make sure he knows what he's doing rather than wait for someone to ask for help.

I'm excited for this set of Innovation Projects and love the fact that I'll be seeing some creative creations rather than creative consumption this time around. 

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