Friday, May 30, 2014

TEAM Research #16: Less is More?

As we continue to navigate our TEAM Research project related to endangered species, I find myself analyzing each step of the project with respect to the learning and teaching goals.

I also find myself wondering about "less is more" with regard to this project and others.

"Less" provides greater opportunity to get it right and polish a project, yet "more" provides a greater number of learning avenues and potential repetitions that are child-friendly.  Again, like all things education, I believe a just-right balance for your teaching/learning goals and students' interests/needs is the way to go.

As I reflect on the revised project to date, I have the following thoughts:

  • What worked: lots of materials, showing models of past projects, time to explore and create, a child-friendly focus which honors their creativity, process ideas and steps, project meetings, a team approach.
  • What could be better: introduction to materials lesson including how to use the materials, put away materials, and share, and even more models of use and care.
Google Presentations
  • What worked: a guiding website, models, collaborative teams, guided research website.
  • What could be better: spending time at the start of the year and throughout the year learning how to use a guided website in multiple ways, even more practice with using online research tools and information to create multimedia compositions, still more attention to text features and formats.  Essentially, since this is a culminating project, the entire year's short projects and standards-base efforts could lead up to this in a focused, explicit way.
Film and Presentation Scripts and Delivery
  • What worked: Setting up a Google chart for shared script writing is a great way to foster share, writing, and voice, script writing and rehearsal provides authentic, engaging fluency practice in both reading and writing, and this is an engaging way to share information with classmates and others.
  • What could be better: More time and more models would help in this area as well as more explicit attention to the standards. Further, the addition of more, shorter and similar fluency projects throughout the year would really enhance this part of the project. 
Overall, so far, the addition of the collaborative aspect of this project as well as the scripts and greater presentation has enhanced this project so that it is a better fit for Common Core standards and student learning.  

Looking at a project like this as a capstone project, a culminating piece that synthesizes the year's learning, can provide the start to wonderful backwards design when it comes to a year's teaching and learning--teaching and learning that is focused on students' interests and needs as well as the standards and goals of the grade level.