Thursday, January 30, 2014

Catching Our Breath

Now that we are past the Idea Showcase and Pitch Day, kids have a chance to dig in and really conduct the research to learn about and execute their projects.  Some of the projects are going beautifully and some are stalling out a bit.  During our 20% class time, there were many groups who worked bell-to-bell while a few others sat, doing nothing.  It is those groups that concern us.  We asked, "What's next?" trying to get them thinking about the logical next step of the process and sometimes that worked.  Other times, not so much.  As with anything, the kids must take ownership of their learning in order to succeed.  Melissa talked to some of the struggling groups about "good" failure and "bad" failure.  "Good" failure is trying very hard to achieve project goals but falling short.  "Bad" failure is not even giving the project their best effort.  

Groups tried this week to line up their mentors.  About 75% of the kids have mentors and some are still searching for mentors.  Teachers on staff at Hixson, community members and even an eighth grade student (who is a mechanical genius) have all agreed to mentor some of the projects.  Our Superintendent, Dr. Sarah Riss, is mentoring the "Operation Beautiful Hixson" project as it dovetails perfectly into the Rachael's Challenge program in the district.  Having a mentor to offer guidance and direction is crucial for the kids and we are very happy with the groups' mentors so far.

Within the next few weeks, we will have another check-in point that will entail some demonstration of the progress made since the last check-in and also a reflection of how the project is coming together in the long term.  This checkpoint will give us a better idea of who is struggling or lacks direction.  

On another note, Melissa and I will be showcasing our 20% Time program at EdCampSTL on Saturday, February 8 from 8:00-4:00 at Affton High School.  If you plan to be there, please come by and take a look. - Don

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