Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Payoff

       When Monday comes calling, I will be buying pizza. And I'll be glad to do so. My risk-taking experiment came to a close on Friday when the projects were due. Two weeks ago I assigned my students to work in groups and come up with ideas for Public Service Announcements (PSA) which they would work together to create. I handed them a rubric, discussed the timing of this, and let them go. The pizza was their idea.
         I wasn't alone in this process. I had the invaluable support and help from my school's tech partner who made time to come to my school despite prior commitments. She provided tips to the students and affirmation and encouragement as the groups edited their video footage and created their spots.
     Thursday she spent much time after school in my classroom with students who were frantic to finish up their projects. Props to her for all she did to add to the success of this endeavor.
      Friday came and the groups submitted their PSAs. I forwarded them on to the principal and a few colleagues to get their "vote" for the best ones.
       Even though there was a winner, I feel like we all came out winning in the end. My students worked together, interacting and collaborating, problem-solving and engaging in critical thinking. They had to "figure it out" when things didn't go in the direction they thought.
      I asked all the students the same question. Was this worth the time? Should I do something like this with the next block of students? Did they get anything out of it? We dialogued for a while about these questions and the answer was the same from all of them. Yes, do this project again. It was fun;t we learned to work together, to figure things out, to write with an audience in mind, create for a larger audience. Common Core standard after standard continued to be vocalized.
       I asked myself the same question. I took time away from the school day to work on this. Was it worth it to me? In spades. This is the most engaged some of these students have been all year. It enabled them to participate in authentic learning, and it showed me how powerful engagement is in the learning process.
      So I'll take a hit for some pizza on Monday. It'll be worth it. And the PSAs? For a first effort, I'm happy with the results and so are the students. Isn't that what's most important?
      What did I learn?  I'm glad I gave up the class time for the students to work together. Projects are good for learning and engage students. I learned that students are hungry for engagement. I learned that little things like this can build relationships among all stakeholders. And I learned that students like to challenge themselves and others.
       Pizza anyone?

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