As I enter my final weeks in the classroom, I find myself wanting to make a splash. Thanks to inspiration from Nicholas Provenzano (@thenerdyteacher) and his #NerdyCast, I’ve really wanted to do a project based assignment, and with my new position as DCIC, I wanted it to be tech-centric.
Then, during my 1st period class today, I had some downtime so I created a quick Padlet with the simple question: “What topics are you interested in learning about?” (the completed Padlet can be found here). The topic completely stumped the majority of my students (this speaks of a bigger issue that no one had ever asked them this question before, or that the questions actual intent wasn’t even within their realm of possibility). Even after I explained it, the vast majority of students didn’t have a response to the question. I heard things like “I don’t like learning” whispered around my room.
I’m not going to claim to be completely shocked by this response, but my 1st period is pretty much the best group of students I have ever taught. They have personality, they’re quick witted, funny, and they each have different strengths and weaknesses. They make me laugh almost everyday, in a way no other group of students I’ve taught has. So to hear that this group of great kids didn’t have passions was painful.
Going off of a concept I heard on #NerdyCast, I started looking for TED talk projects (Nicholas’ project takes a full semester, and I don’t have that much time left). I came across this website by Christian Long (@christianlong) detailing his own TEDx Project. It’s really fantastic.
I’ve made some minor changes to the project (seriously, really minor. His stuff is awesome!), and have produced this blog, mrshreffler.weebly.com, that outlines the requirements of the project (because of internet security protocol issues at my school, weebly.com is one of the only options my students can get to). Most of my changes to the project have to do with the addition of students creating their own blogs that can/will become their own professional blogs or portfolios.
The basic idea of the project is that students will select 5 TED Talks to watch and write reflections of on their blog. Each week a selection of students will present a quick (2 minute) presentation on one of their selected videos. At the end (the last week of school), students will present their own TED-style Talk answer the question “What Matters (To Me)?”
I cannot remember a time when I was so excited about teaching. I can’t wait to introduce this project to my students. My expectations are realistic: they probably won’t get half as excited as I am. Still, I think they’ll like it, at least some of them.
So, you can expect regular updates, and student samples on this project in the coming weeks. We have 6 weeks of school left, and with any luck, I’ll have helped some of my students find their passions by the end of that time.