Today was a very messy day in my classroom. I presented a project proposal to my students, explained my rationale for keeping it open-ended and challenged them to show everyone, including me that they are capable of directing their own learning. I believe they are up to the challenge, but after today I questioned if I am. After I handed out the proposal form, the students got their laptops from the cart to begin their investigations. No internet. Great. I asked them to push on, to think about what type of product they could create to demonstrate their understanding of their learning. They had no problem with that part of the proposal. Some of their choices were to create movies, raps, essays, blogs, songs, monologues, role-playing and more. They really struggled with having autonomy, with how they would grade their product and they weren’t sure about how to keep track of their progress. That was no surprise and I offered suggestions and past examples to help them. It was not an easy day, but my goal at the beginning of the year was to focus on how my students learn and not on how I teach. My students experienced some real cognitive dissonance, but not one of them told me they didn’t want to keep going. I saw students who have not engaged previously dive in with excitement. There were so many questions, with everyone pulling me in different directions. I was hopping around the room trying to help all my students. I am sure I did not get to everyone, and it would be so easy for me to just scrap the whole project and go back to my original structured plan, but I will push on. Hopefully, tomorrow we will be connected and my students will be able to really dig in and start learning. I am still not sure if this project proposal will work, but that too will be a learning experience. Patience and flexibility is my mantra.
I took this picture on the first day of the new semester. I had rearranged my desks to have a discussion with my students about learning and how they feel about school. We talked about how they could become more engaged in the learning process. I asked them what they would like to do, how they would like to learn. Hopefully, we are moving in the right direction.