Sunday, February 12, 2012

Who do I have to partner with? Part 2

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Ever read a professional development book and think, "Oh my! I have to start implementing this now!"  And then a week passes report cards hit, and before you know it the school year is over and the book is forgotten. I have lived this pattern several times.  To think of all that wasted time...and energy make me tired.

As a group, PLC, we decided that would not happen to us.  We did a book study on Digital Natives by Marc Prensky and developed this blog as a way to share our experiences of implementing this into the classroom. Week one was a struggle and I was not sure how this project was going to ever get off of the ground. I didn't trust my partners and was pretty sure they were all drunk on power and movie making.

Week two of our experiment with complete partnering was a raging success. The students presented their story arcs at the beginning of the week and as they finished their presentations we wrote and discussed the parts of the their arcs that we liked. Using the list of likes we came up with our own class arc.  There was much more spontaneous discussion on this than the notes.

The most tragic part of the week was the "passion based production group" sign up.  I wanted to make sure it was completely fair for everyone.  So instead of going alphabetically I got a number from the teacher across the hall and started sometimes on the top of the attendance list and sometimes at the bottom of the list and counted and called them to my desk to pick.  For the most part everyone was if not thrilled then at least at peace with the group they got.  However, there was one class...they struggle and this was no different. Some students didn't get the group they wanted and tears were shed.  The students upset by this were given the opportunity to try and find someone to trade with, or get into a different group, or do the alternate assignment.  They all chose the different group. I am curious how this will play out.

The first day the groups met they were busy researching their different areas.  Beside the film and editing group we have the people, background history, the current events, and the technology group. Each charged with specializing in different parts of the documentary. The groups elected leaders, who were responsible with dividing the research.  Everyone that is except the Film and Edit group they shoved their tables together and they were busy devising a storyboard for us.  As they figured things out the director would run to the different groups and give out assignments.

I was truly surprised by the level of their discussion and the passion they felt for the documentary. One discussion was a heated debate on whether they should include some information they find about one of our stars of the video being a founding member of the Knights Templar in Texas. Some said, "heck yes," because it is cool, others said, "no way," it has nothing to do with answering the essential question.  Made me happy. My little partners are finally taking responsible.

A bigger surprise this week was the level of tools they had at their disposal.  (A typical McKamy problem.) One group brought in a sound board, professional lighting and there is supposedly a green screen on the way next week.  I keep having to remind them that toys are fun but it is not their grade...the information and the story are. I really hope this does not become our Achilles heel.

Prensky was right about their passion leading education.  I had students that many times do not say a word and are clock watching from the minute they enter the room. It is not only my class, other teachers report that they do the same in their classes.  Not this last week.  These students were eagerly offering ideas, equipment, and running from group to group to get the vision together. They have set up interviews and we are working on questions.  And those little disengaged darlings were in the middle of it all wearing huge smiles.

Next week should be a huge test. The students are driving their own movie making completely.  Everyday they are setting goals and writing down exactly what they achieve with the end goal of having this done in two weeks. Keep your fingers crossed for us. 

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