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Sunday, October 27, 2013

When The End Creates the Beginning

From Planning Meeting
Last post I talked about keeping the end in mind. And I mentioned that we need to keep our standards in mind if having highly accredited schools is our true end product. This should be considered a follow on piece to the last post.

When we left our fearless teachers they had looked at the standards and they had come up with roles for their students, potential products, and a possible driving question.

I think it's important to remember that this is their first full-blown project. So when we met this week I had set my expectations fairly low. I wanted them to have thought about an entry event, their calendar, possible real-world connections, and maybe an outline of a rubric.

The information they brought to me included the student roles, the end products, and a driving question. As you can see in the image at the top, they are having students be historians with either a Federalist or an Anti-Federalist bent. They are going to have each student produce either a rap, a poem, or a prologue to a book. Each group will produce a cover  for the collections of raps or poems, or a cover for the book that the epilogue will be a part of. And, their audience will be 5th grade students in our feeder schools. 5th grade and 8th grade are assessed years for U.S. History.

Let's take a quick look at the standards they are attempting to cover:  
            8.15C: Identify colonial grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence and explain how those grievances were addressed in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  
           8.15D: Analyze how the U.S. Constitution reflects the principles of limited government, republicanism, checks and balances, federalism, separation of powers, popular sovereignty, and individual rights.

When we start doing project ideation we want to always have these standards in the back of our minds. When the students are creating their products we need to see them Identifying grievances and Explaining how these were addressed. And they need to Analyze parts of the constitution.  These are the things we want our rubric(s) to address and our products, as well. We want to be totally overt with what it is we want our students to learn.

As we started the planning one of the major items to create was the entry event. The teachers had decided to create a letter from our former principal, and now assistant superintendent, who was very personable and well liked by our 8th grade class.  I, offhandedly, said "it's too bad he wasn't here to do a video request." Not 15 minutes later I saw him walk into the office. I asked; He accepted; The video was shot: Entry event completed.

Other items they worked on that day included: identifying groups and laying out the calendar with content and with student products. The project kicked off. Teachers are happy and students are engaged.  Next post I'll look at how the middle of the project is progressing. What ways are the teachers scaffolding content? What formative assessments are they doing? What obstacles have they had to overcome? Stay tuned...