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I Like the Way You Work It.

So, 4th block students have a rough question or goal. Now what?  Well, that depends on what type of project students are undertaking.  Over days 3 and 4, I set up a little list for my 4th block students.  But, just like the inquiry process suggests, it starts with finding resources and doing some research.  These are not prescribed steps, just suggestions for those who need the guidance.

For those who are digging deep into content knowledge:
  • Research: get background on your topic to refine your focus.
  • Find “texts”
  • Read “texts”
  • Record relevant info.
For those who are looking to improve performance of a skill:
  • Research: get background on your skill and how you can improve? (record this!)
  • What is your plan for improvement?
  • How will you track data?

For those who are looking to perform a specific task or create a specific product:
  • Research: get background on what your product will entail? (record this!)
  • What is your plan for completing the product?
  • Start completing it.

In terms of progress monitoring, there are two different different methods I am using.  The first is an end of class check-in. Since this is my first time through the process, I’m not giving much choice in how this is done.  I imagine once I’ve gone through the process once, I’ll be more willing to use multiple forms of check-ins. I imagine video or voice memos, even peer conferencing.

Right now, students are completing a simple Google Doc and submitting it on a daily basis.  The doc asks them to report out on
  • What did you accomplished today?
  • What are your major takeaways from today?
  • What do you plan to accomplish tomorrow?

I'm trying to find a balance between having students communicate with me, but not make it seem like to much of a hoop to jump through. The following are some examples.

Goal/Topic: How should I format my college essays and what are the prompts for specific schools? I will then use that information to write two essays.

Initial Goal/Topic: I will learn about and create a physics engine on my computer using C++ that will output to the screen. I will derive and create all the actual motion and rotation myself.

Initial Goal/Topic: Learn the basics of reading poodle radiology and other information that I may need to learn to read them.

Initial Goal/Topic: How far away are we from technology like Jarvis centralized computer system from the Iron-Man films?

Initial Goal/Topic: To pass my private pilot written exam with a score at least 5% above the lowest score to pass, and be ready to do it by the end of the school year so I can focus on flight training in the summer and take the test for my license by the end of August. I will know if I have achieved this if I can answer practice questions with at least 90% accuracy.

The other tool for tracking progress is Class Dojo.  I had used Class Dojo to great success a few years ago for monitoring student engagement.  But, it got lost in the shuffle of all the other tech tools I was playing around with.  But, like all the great tech tools, you come back.  It offers a powerful and simple solution for monitoring skills in the classroom.  I returned to the Dojo and am happy to see it is even better than I remember.  I look forward to reporting out a bit more after I’ve practiced my moves in the Dojo, but will be sure to in a a couple of days.  

ClassDojo lets me keep tabs on how engaged students are in the learning process and how well they are using this personal learning time.  Class Dojo’s simple interface lets me mark positive efforts and those that need work.  The Dojo has a growth mindset framework and it is geared towards environments that allow students to have time to take risks, fail, and learn from failure. It lets me choose specific skills I want to track.

It allows for tracking of skills over time to show progress or guide discussions.

Now, I have to think more about how students can use this as a reflective tool.  But, for me it is a way to track student dedication to the learning task.  And as personal success skills are part of what I want students to gain from the course, it is something that they are being held accountable for.  

I look forward to putting together a post on how Class Dojo worked for me after a couple of weeks.  But, I’m excited to get back in.

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