Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Interest and Relevance (Humanities 8)


I would like to share a one-day-at-a-time story about the bright, young, kindhearted, frustrated, disengaged and sometimes (very) difficult, student on whom I am focusing my "lens". He and I are learning alongside of each other in English and Social Studies (am realizing he is teaching me as much as I him). As I try new strategies to engage the class (and... hush... him too), our class CEA, Mrs. P, has quietly inquired as to how he is "feeling about his learning".  5= very good!  1= would rather poke out my eyeballs than experience this lesson again. You can probably see where this is going...  We did a hands on activity using playdoe in Social Studies... 2.5. (not bad).  We did a "stretch your sentence" exercise in English (he wrote a great sentence and I heaped on the accolades)...1.  We did a "scary story" exercise where students borrowed sentence structure to form their own sentence (he again wrote a great sentence)...1.  When asked why a "1", he responded, "That's just how I am used to feeling." So there it is... learned defeatism?  Whatever the case, I understood that the road that is the classroom experience was going to have to look different for this fellow.

    Enter Minecraft.  In an effort to find a medium of engagement, my student and I came up with a project that was a good fit for him. In lieu of the essay writing/public speaking assignment that was the final summative assignment of Term 1, he would teach me (his old lady English teacher) how to play Minecraft via a directive video. That very night he completed the assignment. Using a microphone and a program he found and set up, he proudly, comfortably and confidently, walked me through "Minecraft". I had never heard him say so many words with such enthusiasm! Very cool.
    This actually happened awhile ago - we celebrated the success of the assignment, and my student had an opportunity to feel success. I decided to hold off on assessment, partially because I was not quite sure how to go about it.  We returned to  "one-day-at-a-time" pace, but this afternoon I had a bit of an epiphany about the assessment of this assignment. In taking a 2nd look at Holly Colquhoun's blog on the competencies (or "21st Century Fluencies")  she had been exploring, I realized that this is what the Minecraft assignment was able to demonstrate, which is actually quite a lot!

1. Problem solving
2. Creativity
3. Analytical Thinking
4. Collaborate ( a bit less of this, but I understand when he plays regularly, he often must negotiate with other players...)
5. Communicate
Clearly - this student is part of the digital generation.

So - next the step for me is to sit down with my student, review his video, and see how the skills he is able to show in his assignment connect with the above elements. I am hoping he will see what a talented, capable person he is!

I'm shooting for a "3.5" on this one!  Will let you know how it goes!

Post courtesy of Andrea DeVito

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