This post is more of a successful report on a project in the past that went really well, rather, than a current project. My students were working on a research project on water shortages around the world. I set out on this unit a plan to give as much control over to the students as possible.
1. Students brainstormed questions they would need to answer to under stand what “water shortages” are and what causes them.
2. Students, in small groups, chose one of their brainstorming questions and did preliminary research.
3. Students reported to each other their basic findings on their questions, then students selected the “important” questions and topics to continue to investigate.
4. Students researched a topic of their choice, from those selected as a group. They had the overall goal on becoming a “class expert” so they could share their knowledge and skills with everyone else.
5. Students developed a way of sharing their expertise with their peers, completely of their own method and choosing.
6. Students chose the criteria that would be used to determine if they could be considered an expert.
7. Students scored each other based upon their self-selected criteria for expertise.
This ended up being a great project. I feel that simply because of the autonomy that was afforded students I had many grasp the assignment and run with it. Students that typically are the most difficult to engage in the classroom were the most engaged when they had the opportunity to have nearly complete control over their own decisions.
This was a great experience that I feel helped to shape the rest of my school year with my students and that I hope to be able to refine and improve upon for next year.