09 March 2009


Once you reach the wiki, scroll down on the left sidebar and choose one of six poets: Akhmatova, Baudelaire, Lorca, Neruda, Rilke, Tagore. Pages designed entirely by students, their first time. Trying not to act on my impulse to clean them up!

This is an interesting learning experience for me. I designed the project (see earlier posts) to avoid the same o same o poetry lesson. They just finished the Inferno, which was intense, traditional, and deadly serious, so I thought that it might be time for them to construct meaning, rather than have me hand it to them. In addition, this class of Phase 5s are excellent students: they know how to study, they know how to ace assessments, but they are all about the grades, and that is it. They need to break out of the mold!
I supposed you could say that school put them into the mold, but it is irrelevant now. They are 18 years old, about to be in charge of their lives,and they need to start using the information and skills they have to build knowledge, to build a life for themselves. So right now, they are uncomfortable, still asking what I want, how many points this is, does this look good, and I am playing it loose. The stakes get higher with each day. The longer they do this, the harder it will be to add quality content to the pages, the more creative they will have to be. They need to ask questions instead of answer them. They need to be ME.
"Whoever asks the questions is in charge." If I can let go, then they can grab on.

3/11 Day Three. The better students are turning out to be more creative--probably their superior internet experience, more researching under their belts. Today there was some new stuff that I had not originally found-yes! Some in the English department were skeptical, but so far there has been NO inappropriate content or editing of others' work. There were a few stupid emails, typical stuff I think. I did tell them all today that they were allowed to correct someone else's mistakes in spelling, grammar or punctuation that happened in the heat of the moment. Tomorrow I am bringing my multimedia Shakespeare book, which combines history, primary documents in reproduction, photos and paintings to give them more ideas on how to blend all their sources. Also, I have to spend a day on citing their stuff wiki style--I should have done that first. Remember that for next time.
I have to develop a project eval, so I can get their reactions and suggestions.
Some discussion in the department today about how to grade them. Original plan: each group gets a grade on the 6 days work. Now, I am wondering if I should grade each page and then average the grade for everyone. I was going to have each person do an in class essay at the end on the poet of their choice. May still do that. Anne wanted to have them all review the original page they started and get graded on that page. I think there is already more stuff on each page than could make it fair to grade it that way. Maybe they all just get a grade as a class???I see now why there are all the discussion in the blogosphere about the inadequacy of traditional grading systems.
Ask other world lit teachers to review and offer suggestions, concerns, etc. Should everyone look at it?
3/17 yes-have Andy and Gina review at the very least.
3/17 last day: yesterday went better. no one's tags showed up, for some reason. First, I thought some had not done it, but too many were missing. I need to research this. Also, they are running out of ideas for the 5th and 6th day. there IS plenty to do, but they are having trouble moving from "what do you want?" to "what interests me and should be added?" so I offered a few suggestions.

I am thinking that next time, I should only include 5 poets????
added cites today. they worked for most of them, one group had trouble, not sure why. used the instructions provided on the coolcatteacher blog by Vicki Davis. I am working up a project evaluation for Studywiz so I can see their ideas on the matter.
3/18 they did an online eval on Studywiz, then I let them play for a few minutes. Interesting to see what 5s "play at":
 Freddy looking at Filipino tattoos
 Jeanne at prom dresses
MANY trying to make their own vokis.
They are so product oriented, that they do not see the benefit to surfing for research purposes--they just want to find a site. They do not want to try something new, and if they make a mistake or something does not work the first time, they are done. Scary portents for the future--theirs and mine. Some of the evals were creative, most predictable. One said they s/he would not ever use a wiki again, but it was interesting (and then went home to sign onto facebook!). more on that later. will try to link the eval file to this blog.
3/23 looked over their evals-interesting. They were bugged that the pages did not hang together graphically, but few did anything to rectify this. Almost as if I needed to tell them what to do, because they were unsure. They are so sure of their intellect and academic superiority, but they can only use these tools in certain settings (or do these gifts do not included flexible thinking or independent investigation??)

4/5/09 Today I have been reviewing the work of the second set of seniors, Phase 4, who have used the wiki page which the Phase 5s created. It has revealed more clearly the imperfections of the pages. The students are indeed having trouble following the pages (format) and finding what they need (too many links, not enough explanation). In addition, they are also surprised that I am expecting them to read the links! Also, they are uncovering (accidentally) the content weaknesses of the pages, without my involvement--there are lots of links, but little sifted information, which means that the students who built the pages, did additions randomly, without reflecting or prioritization of what they added. SO for next time, I will need to plan accordingly. I anticipate a mixture of more stringent guidelines (give them rubric up front, more specific requirements for the pages) and less time to work (dawdle). Perhaps a critique in the middle of the process, something more detailed than my red notes in the margins of the pages. I also think that I will ask each group to publish in a different color, so that it is easier to track each group's work. Also, I was lax in demanding that requirements were met early on, so that I could see what they came up with independent of what I wanted. Maybe should not do that again--though that did support my belief that the Phase 5s, though good students, still need the push to inspire themselves. I purposely did not give them rubrics up front this time, because I wanted to see what they could do on their own, without the great god GRADE directing their every move.

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