Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Trying Something New

In an attempt to find new and better ways for my students to build their skills in English and a desire to make my class more relevant, exciting and consistent with our modern world, I'm considering trying something new this year.

While reading Howard Gardner's analysis of Google's practice of allowing its employees to spend one day a week working on their own innovative project in Five Minds for the Future (see the bookshelf at the bottom of this blog) this summer, I thought, why wouldn't this work with students?

I'm thinking of calling it "Innovation Friday," Here's the idea:

  • Students create an ambitious project of their own design that requires them to show they have achieved or grown in specific standards, personal goals, and class goals.

  • Each project proposal must be approved by the teacher.

  • Every Friday, students spend the entire period working on their project, while dedicating a certain amount of time outside of class to it as well

  • We do three of these projects throughout the year. The first is individual. The second is chosen and completed by a small group. The third project is an entire class effort.

  • The results or outcomes of the projects must be posted online for community viewing and comment.

The reason for doing the individual, small group, and class version would be to better simulate the different kinds of experiences they will have in the future.

My fear in doing something like this is giving up control and that some students just won't get it, procrastinate, and turn in low quality work. I think I could mitigate this by raising the bar on their projects when I meet with them about their proposals, having them turn in progress reports, developing a grading rubric with the students, and meeting with individual students throughout the process.

I will also have to give something up if I'm dedicating Fridays to this activity, but I think overall it will add more variety, excitement, creativity and learning about personal responsibility to my class.

Any suggestions? Am I crazy?

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