Saturday, February 18, 2012

Iteration really does work

Definition of Iteration-The repetition of a process or utterance. 
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Practice makes perfect. Right? That was what my mother used to always say. I would try to explain that I was not meant to do housework because I lacked the skill and attention to detail that it required. She never flinched, didn't even lift her head from the book she was reading, "Well, you need more practice then!  Get in there." For me, those words still are associated with the smell of bleach and soft scrub.

Marc Presky, talks about the importance of practice for both the student and the teacher in the partnering relationship.  Maybe he and my mom were right.

I have been submerged in the full partnering experiment for the last three weeks.  The first week was tough on both of us, student and teacher.  They were learning to research and kept trying to search instead.  We were both frustrated with their progress. Last week I was starting to see the light. After several student led discussions they were finally in their production groups and deciding their own lessons, and work load.  I was surprised the depth of their research and the kinds of conversations that they were engaging in as teams and as a class.  It took everything in my being to keep my mouth shut and let them learn as a group together finding the answer instead of jumping in there and giving it to them.

This week was amazing!  As a class they are independently finding information that their TEKS require and discussing the information with the other groups putting it in their videos without me saying a word.  Students that were initially extremely upset at not being in the groups that they wanted have come up to me and apologized for their reluctance and are thanking me for talking them out of the alternate assignment.

I did have one of my more bright classes hit a huge road bump. On our block day together they discovered that when everyone tries to be in charge nothing gets completed and working to work doesn't achieve the goal.  We had a couple of class discussions about what the goal is and what responsibility that we all have to each other and to our goal. It was humbling but they made a huge comeback the next day.

My class periods are now in a predictable hum.  We have our beginning meeting.  Students check in with me to discuss their daily goals.  Groups check in and run out of the room to other places to film or to call possible "historical experts" for interviews. Groups might be gathered around tables building the town of Crush.Texas out of Legos to re-enact a train crash.  Others are on computers, laptops or phones researching and writing scripts.  A small trio will be around a microphone reading their scripts creating their voice overs.  They are moving furniture draping walls with green curtains and acting out scenes as three to four cameras record their progress.  Others will be watching and offering ideas to improve the scene or shot.  Class lights flicker and everyone knows, "Quiet on the set!" Class time goes fast.  Before they know it I am calling them to clean up and get out their calendars so we can have our class meeting.

Class meetings have been a huge part of this experiment.  At the beginning and end of each class we discuss what our goals are and what we need to do to achieve them. In these class meetings we look at our productivity, our due dates, and what we learned from a day of work.  I haven't utilized this type of meta-cognitive discussion in class before.  I was surprised to see how much the students like these and look forward to them.  It is a time to validate what they have learned to celebrate individual/team/class successes, strategize how to be more effective for the coming days.  It is also a way for me as the coach to lead the team and discuss behaviors that we need to support or correct to be more productive.

We have two more weeks left of this project and I have to say I will be sad to see it end.  I am not sure what our next step together will be.  I know I don't want the partnering to end, they have learned too much for us to make this an isolated event.  We have been practicing it for almost 30 days and are finally getting  perfect  better at it.

Maybe I should ask them.  See how they want to learn about the next unit, for our next 30 days.


  1. This sounds so amazing. I wish I could be a part of it! Can't wait to see how it ask turns out. Are you going to have all classes watch all presentations so they see everything?

  2. We will have a Movie Festival after they are all wrapped up. I am thinking if the quality is where I want it we will also have a parent's night.