Sunday, May 26, 2013

Ancient Greece finally...

It was a short week.  It was a long week.  Life has been kind of hectic-with school musical and a flash mob along the way.  I was looking for a week of getting "back to the basics"!  Tuesday, after the long weekend (having celebrated the queen's birthday) they were supposed to finally present their Ancient Greek projects.  Probably that wasn't the best idea I have ever had but the presentation of said projects had been delayed with everything else that had occurred and I had been able to book two periods in the library Thursday to share their work with other classes so I needed to see what we actually had.

To keep momentum going I don't think project preparation should go on more than two weeks, three weeks at the most, but I am afraid this one had due to the musical.
Two students were away and their partners weren't prepared to present on their own as their partner had what they needed.  One hadn't tried his power point out and it wouldn't work.  Others somehow missed the part that projects were supposed to be multimodal (more than two ways of presenting) or that they were supposed to be presenting to a group of anthropologists to get a research grant.  There were some good projects but they looked quite "flat" generally.  I was glad we had two days before the "public" presentations.

We set up as stations so that half the class were presenting and then the other half went and listened to the presentations, used a checklist evaluation sheet to evaluate their peers, and then we switched.  When I looked at the presentations, I had that feeling that my grade seven students were thinking school was over early.

I had been reading our professional book club book, Classroom Habitudes.  In their self-evaluations I asked them to tell whether they had demonstrated passion in their presentations.  Wednesday I had them do top ten books about the top ten facts they had learned from their research and asked them to write a found poem about their topic, two items they could add to their presentations.  I also asked them in their self-evaluations to tell how they could improve their presentations for Thursday.

I was kind of grumpy Wednesday though sometimes teaching seventh grade requires a bit of acting.  And I could see students making plans and getting to work with a sense of urgency.

Thursday they started the day with a math test and then before recess we went to the library to set up and were ready to go after recess.  Well almost ready, now the powerpoint that had finally worked on a classroom computer wouldn't work in the computer lab but said student again hadn't checked it earlier!  Another two students were away but one student was well-prepared and was ready to present without her partner (the partner did come for an hour in the end to do the presentation although she wasn't well) and the other group's partner did show up but they had figured out the password to their prezi before his arrival.  You can tell students to be organized a day ahead, to have each other's phone numbers etc. but one only learns by failing sometimes.

It's always good to have an audience and the projects had greatly improved!  The visiting classes and teachers loved them and they kept students from grade one to seven entertained and informed.  Each group had sticky notes and pens or pencils so that their visitors could write comments for them.  I feel good that in my four years here, my class's projects have inspired other teachers and classes to do these type of projects and presentations.

They again had self evaluations to do and I think that helped them to see their improvements as well.  This all makes me again think of the habitudes that Angela Maiers thinks students need for the 21st century-imagination, curiosity, perseverance, self-awareness, courage, and adaptability.  Funny how a project on some aspect of Ancient Greece can help these all come into play.

Now I am actually having them present individually (well I have 14 groups) on Monday because it was a little too busy for me to properly evaluate Thursday and I think I know who is the grand prize winner but I want to make sure!  Also there isn't much room in my classroom with various models and posters. Have I ever complained how tiny they make newer classrooms with no storage space?

So back to the basics... well they definitely read, wrote and did math this week.  Friday I taught them how gambling works (probability) and we actually I spent two periods on French.  I think other than a reading assignment on sinkholes and a discussion on tornadoes, science was left a bit behind.  And Monday we begin a facilitated unit on coping with life's ups and downs (personal planning).  They are also finally getting their lemonade and freezie sale organized for Room to Read.

And people ask me if I am winding down in my last few weeks of teaching.  I don't really think so...

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