Communication for the Life on Planet X students is all about honing their interpersonal skills. Planet X relies heavily on collaboration, so being able to communicate well within a group and convey your ideas or concerns is of vital importance. This has lead to us to discuss ways to communicate ideas within your group in a respectful manner, as well as how to resolve conflict of ideas in a peaceful manner.
CollaborationBoth of the projects rely heavily on students' abilities to collaborate with one another and with cooperating teachers. Throughout their projects, I have grouped and regrouped students using various strategies (interest inventories, strengths/weaknesses, technological skills & abilities, etc). After each opportunity for collaboration, I have had the ability to asess their skills through our use of ProjectFoundry's observation tools. I use ProjectFoundry's Project Skills self-assessment and advisor evaluation form observation tool. They are the same form, where advisors and students grade themselves on various skills based on what level of mastery they feel they have demonstrated those skills. An example of a form and the descriptors is below.
I believe that my students are well aware of the need to gain experience in all 4 of the C's as well as in other various areas of 21st Century skills. Many of them are motivated to move quickly into the work-force and are anxious to work on more real-world relevant skills. This is one of the biggest draws to our Charter academy, as noted by both students and parents alike--our ability to help simulate a work-place atmosphere where students can start practicing the skills they will need to excel in the future.
While they see the importance of working on all of them, the students are not well practiced in self-assessing their own growth in all of them. Frequently, I see self-assessments that have all questions answered with the same level "Proficient" or "Beginner," and it frustrates me that students don't necessarily see the value in seeing their own growth. I attribute this largely to their unfamiliarity with this type of learning and growing, but realize that I need to do more on my part to help instill in them an intrinsic motivation to better themselves on all levels, and not just on academic ones. Once I've done that, I hope that students will take better advantage of the multiple assessments that they can do to track their actual development of those skills because, as I said, while we have ample opportunity for assessment, they frequently underutilize this option.
Many of our students believe that if all they do is do the work, that they should earn 3.0 level mastery. Students are still working on grasping the mastery levels as how well they understand a concept as opposed to a mentality that they can keep trying something over and over again until they get the grade that they want. Frequently, what I see is students performing 2.0 level work repeatedly and expecting "more" to equal a higher grade. I can't blame them, because in a traditional setting they had the opportunity to do bare minimum work over and over again (ala homework) and turn in it for points, and the more points they had the better their score. I think this will be a struggle that we have with students as we assess them on more and more competencies and they begin to truly internalize what mastery and proficiency actually mean.