Monday, January 7, 2013

Getting it Done

Now that the reading is over, it was time for the culminating project process to start. Students were divided into teams by their advisor and myself. We created mixed grouped based on students' interests and abilities, as well as their comfortability levels with various technologies available to them throughout the building.

For the most part, the groupings worked well. We chose to create groups of similar sizes at first, but then noticed we needed to change up some of the groupings to allow for students' creativity to come out. This lead to a few groups of 4 and a few of two, as well as a few students who are working on the project individually (mostly due to attendance issues preventing a group project from being possible). 

When I run this project with my group of students next year, I think that I will do the groupings differently. I will survey students on their performance-mode interests, technological use interests, and act/scene interests and use that survey to create more homogenous groups. I feel that this would lead to better groupings because students would be more interested in their final-product (since they would all be grouped with the same performance-mode) and therefore more invested in the project. My particular group of students has a wide range of abilities and interests and are very motivated to work to create the optimal project, instead of just creating a project that "kind-of" seemed interesting to them, like the students I worked with this year.--Nothing against the students I worked with this year, I think they did a nice job pulling together and creating a nice final performance or product for each of their groups. I just know that the more interested a student is, the more they are willing to invest in the final product, and I would bet I would see more variety and professionalism evident next year. 

However, what I will say for my students this year is that they did do a nice job collaborating together. Again, I attribute this to the students getting experience in various collaboration formats throughout the project.  In visiting with students, or doing non-formal observations, I was able to see that students were better at solving their issues, and needed less teacher-input than during previous collaborative tasks. Students were able to state both (or all) of their sides, see the pros/cons to the sides and then ask for guiding input from either myself or their classroom advisor. It was nice to see that even when groups couldn't come to an agreement and we all agreed to disassemble the group that there truly didn't seem to be any hard feelings or ill-will towards one another; students simply recognized it as "unresolvable conflicting issues". Students were very supportive of one another, both in their own group, and in the class as a whole, of their different strengths and products.

The students we work with are not always motivated to keep track of things the paper-and-pencil way (or even in an e-format for that matter), so getting them to get organized was a challenge. The Management Logs below are examples from our groups, however the work had to be completed with MY assistance and input. Students would start a copy, give it to one student, lose a copy, rewrite the copy on lined paper, or scratch paper... everyone knows the "My Dog Ate It" drill. So the copies below are re-interpreted copies of their actual management process pieces, reassembled into one coherent list. 

I think that one of the big issues with using the management logs was that it was a different format than they are used to. Students are used to using ProjectFoundry, an online management system, to create and assign tasks for group projects. The ProjectFoundry proposal that we used for the students for this project allowed for students to see what ALL of the students in the class were responsible for, but not individual groups. In an effort to not have to create a separate and conflicting project, we had students opt out of using ProjectFoundry and instead do the management log on paper (of various formats as stated above, ha!). Next time I run this project, I will have student groups create a project proposal on Project Foundry specifically citing the learning targets that their group final product will show mastery of and then all students will have access to their tasks electronically at all times.