Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Innovation Update - Day 3 of J-Term

That was such a non-creative post title.  Sorry about that.

Today is Day 3 of our Innovation Projects. (You can read the nitty gritty of this project here.) I will say that this project started with a few twists and turns from our previous projects.

I'm used to seeing students work on their projects for one class period on Friday.  This has been more intense, with two and a half hours every day!  What that means is as I type this (about an hour into Wednesday) we have a month and a half worth of work smashed into 2+ days.

Frankly, Monday and Tuesday were boring for me. The students were focused on their work with very little interaction. The only real conversation was from the group of three boys who are working on a project together. Even they were pretty quiet.  However, the projects are starting to take shape and students are starting to share.

Take the boys in the picture below. (It's not the best picture, but I tried to be stealthy.) The two boys on our right -- Will and Lucas -- are working on similar projects, remote control cars/robots.  They have been watching videos of other similar projects and comparing notes on their creations. The boy on our left is Nathan. He is creating his own video game on YoYo Games. As Will and Lucas compared their notes, Nathan shoved his laptop in front of Will. Next thing you know, Will is playing Nathan's game.  Pure Genius!

This is J-Term. We have students all over this school and our community doing really fun stuff.  We have classes playing Ultimate Frisbee and basketball, cooking, doing service projects, volunteering at a cat shelter -- fun and not mentally taxing activities.  Then, we have us.  Slaving in front of computers, learning quietly, and creating. I almost feel guilty, but I remember these kids signed up for it... and it is the class of their choice.  However, take this group of guys hanging out in the back of the room. They are working on creating a gaming video together.  They. Assigned. Themselves. Homework.

This young lady has been in constant work mode all week, creating her own web site about Greek mythology.  So, what did she do? Went out and got honest to goodness books (made out of paper, no less) to learn the mythology needed for her site.

I am excited about the learning going on in this room this week.

I'm also experimenting with OneNote Classroom Notebook, and I'm pleased with the results so far. I gave each student a section called "Workspace" which is exactly what it sounds like. I figured it would go largely untouched, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Nathan actually stash his ponderings there. I got to see the characters he created on Paint and some of the plans he had for for his plot.  For some unknown reason he deleted his work after one day, but -- well -- it is his work. 

In retrospect I wish I had included a rubric section for each student in their notebook.  I could have made an Excel spreadsheet that kept them updated on their scores each day. I'll definitely include that in the future.

Overall, I'm pleased with the direction this round of projects is heading and can't wait to see the final products on Friday.

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