Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Two Experiments

So we're trying an experiment this quarter. Actually two. I'm nervous as hell.

The first is my colleague and good friend John Marzion's action research for his master's program. He is going to work with kids to teach them how to learn, how to study, how to navigate information in textbooks, how to prepare for tests, how to stay organized, even how to eat and sleep in order to be more successful at school.

I'll post those results as they come in, but I'm thrilled he's looking into what we already suspect is the way to go for adolescents. What would happen if we taught them what they actually need to know?

The second experiment is in my classroom. I'm allowing kids to explore what interests them in whatever genre they want to use. In other words, kids could film their attempts at learning new snowboarding tricks while providing a blow-by-blow account of their efforts. Another kid could create a blog and write about their views of local, national, and world issues. Others could create online scrapbooks, documentaries, presentations, as well as traditional memoirs, poetry, and fiction.

Adolescents tend to plan huge and perform small. Their dreams are huge, but when it comes down to it, they sometimes are challenged in pulling it all together.

Plus, when we do this at school, our very, very slow internet connections will cause serious problems if we can even get access to computers in the first place.

Finally, in the first couple of days of this experiment, some kids are lost. I am unable to find the time to meet with every kid to help them plan out their ideas. We'll have to spend time at lunch and after school to work out the bugs. Other kids, not used to being given control - although we've been working as a workshop all year - are squandering their time and disrupting others.

So the potential is there for some serious chaos. I revel in slightly controlled chaos in which kids are creating and displaying their boundless energy and knowledge. Technology issues, especially ones that should be easy to fix, drive me crazy.

I'll stay calm and collected. Yeah, right!

I'll post updates, photos, links, and maybe even video of the kids' creations.

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