1st Time #20Time: What I’ll Do Better Next Time

Tuesday, June 9, 20158:36 PM

I like to think this blog has many purposes. I want to develop my voice, share what goes on in my classroom, and build an online presence, but most of all, I like to use this space for reflection. Like any good teacher, I often think about what I would do differently next year. What I rarely do, though, is write that down. I'm really good at organizing my documents so that I can reuse or adapt any resource or lesson anytime; I need to get better about doing the same with my ideas.

My students wrapped up their #20Time presentations today and many were phenomenal. Some students awed and impressed me with the knowledge, presentations, and actions. I plan to share some of these highlights next week. Before then, I want to reflect on my own work in planing, facilitating, and evaluating #20Time projects. Here is what I want to do differently, consider more, or simply do better:

The Process
  • I want to be more explicit in purposeful in checking in on student work and progress to keep them on track. I'll probably use a Google Form for this, but I need to act on the results and help every student find success.
  • I want to show models of successful projects to motivate, inspire, and guide students' work. Since this was my first time with the projects, I didn't have anything of my own to model with, and I think this would help some students a lot.
  • I want every student to blog on a blogging platform. Google Docs served its purpose, but the students' who really used their blogs to document thought, progress, and reflection usually did better work. The tech needs to be authentic, just like the results.
  • I need students to start learning to use links like this: Annotated Bibliography instead of like this: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1R0Ta8h5WCvRSpK-D7cTQ-WlIY8FZ9xdMjXXQllR6yK4/edit

The Products
  • Many of the products were fantastic but I need to push more students to step away from the easy option. A Google Slides presentation is simply not the most effective way to present knowledge in most cases. I also need to help students better understand how audience, purpose, and format of presentations relate. Maybe I'll introduce the rhetorical triangle here? (audience/speaker/purpose)
  • I need to help students become better editors. So many awesome projects lacked clear proofreading and editing. This made me sad.
  • I required students to do a lot of research, consult with experts, and write an annotated bibliography. I was less explicit about citations in the final products, and this was a mistake. Many students conducted great research throughout the process but ended up inadvertently plagiarizing in the end--we need to work on this one.

Next year, I plan to introduce #20Time at the start of quarter 2 and give students more time to learn, explore, and process. Learning evolves, and I want to make this authentic and meaningful in my classroom. Much of the work this year was really, really good, but students simply need more time. Additionally, I need to plan better. I'll schedule the end of the projects for the end of quarter 3, so students work for around half the year and have real time to deliver their projects to an audience, more akin to TED Talks, instead of squeezing them in before finals. This worked okay but didn't do their work justice. 

Finally, I need to figure out how to grade the work. On advice from Don Wettrick, I graded the steps along the way, not the final products. Students are also evaluating their own work on a detailed rubric and writing a thorough reflection, which I will assess. My hope is that this allows us to determine authentic grades together and reward hard work without punishing appropriate failure. Some students didn't fully succeed because they had ambitious goals, but I've never been prouder than hearing them admit their "failure," and instead share all the amazing things they learned and did. 

I'll share one awesome project below and then more next time. I heard about the Genius Hour Fair today--great timing--and these students entered.

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