Getting Back to Learning After Testing
I work with several public middle schools who are in the middle of testing. The mood and morale is awful. Students are complaining of headaches and some are skipping school. Teachers are asking me to help them create projects now so as soon as they stop testing, their students can get back to real learning that is connected to what is relevant to them.
Students need to be part of the design team developing questions about what means something to them. One topic we are working on is a six week project on Global Climate Change. We took a template of an existing project and cloned it. That was easy. Now the hard part.. designing group activities where each child has a role and responsibilities. The product they will create in their group is a 30 second public service announcement (PSA) about a topic involving Global Climate Change.
We brainstormed ideas for activities:
- class will view a video on Global Climate Change.
- the class will brainstorm ideas for topics about climate change using Inspiration.
- students will group by topic (4 to a group).
- each group will mindmap ideas and questions about their topic. They need to come up with at least ten questions. Refer to Developing Questions for Critical Thinking using Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy.The will post their questions around the room and on a comment on the website.
- group roles could include: researchers, actors, director, camera person, graphic artist, writers.
- each group will be responsible for a category with questions and answers for the jeopardy game.
- groups will research their topic on the Internet and find the causes, effects, and how people can change the effects.
- each student will calculate their carbon footprint.
- all topics will be pulled together as the jeopardy game and played in class. The jeopardy game will be embedded in SlideShare and the project website.
- the class will Skype with a local TV meteorologist about weather and the climate. Each group will choose one question to ask and discuss with the meteorologist. the Skype session will be recorded and saved to the website.
- each group will then write a paragraph (100 words) about their topic and hand it to another group for feedback. Questions to consider:
Is it informative about the topic?
Is there a call to action for the audience?
- each group will use the feedback to create a storyboard with no more than 8 scenes and present to two other groups for feedback and approval.
- each group will design or find the graphics, costumes, charts, etc. for each scene and practice each scene so the PSA is no more than 30 seconds.
- each group will film and edit their PSA.
- groups will show off their PSA to each other.
- class will showcase their PSAs to school and parents.
This is big. It will take six weeks but these 6th grade students will always remember what they did and be proud of it. My job is in the background. This is too much for a teacher to do alone if they have never done anything like it before. I’m their coach.
This is so much fun. I want to do more. I am working with several other teachers to design different projects, playshops for teachers and more. One cool project is a CSI project. I’m working on that today. I wish learning could be like this everyday where students own it. Teachers are pulled in so many directions and spending months to prepare for tests that impact the school not the child. This is very upsetting to me. It should all be about the child — the learner.
In the future, we’ll look back and shake our heads for taking creativity and critical thinking out of schools for a whole generation of kids. It’s time to bring joy back and make learning relevant to the real world.