Sunday, April 2, 2017

Checking In

There is a lot of time between the high-stakes Genius Hour days. In previous years, we had Pitch Day in December, Idea Showcase in February, and Student TED Talks in May. There is a lot of work time between those events. We had to have some way to closely monitor the kids' work. While we check in with them each week, we wanted some formal way to have the kids reflect and curate the work that they have done so far. This year, because my teaching position is a bit different than my previous one, we had Pitch Day in December and we will have Idea Showcase act as our final presentation in May. That's a lot of time between high-stakes days. This week, because I need to see where the kids are in the process and some of what they have already produced, kids will complete Checkpoint Activity 1.

This activity is part evidence and part reflection. I assigned it last week so that the kids have two weeks to really dig in and assemble their work so far. This document is in the folder of documents linked on the right hand side of the blog. Kids will create a document and describe some of the work that they have done. They will not talk about what they plan to do. They will show what they have done. Their summary will be augmented by pictures and video of their work, or links to their work online. I want to see what they have been doing. If they are making something, I want to see the progress. If they are designing, I want to see it. Kids must show four elements of the project and the blog they are keeping acts as one element.

After the kids curate their work, they will reflect on what they have done and what they still have to do before presentations in May. The timing here is perfect. Kids still have almost two months to finish their projects so they should be focusing in more and more each day. Many kids have said, "But I am not finished with my project yet" or "I haven't done anything in a month". This activity helps them get back on track. It is not a high-stakes event like Pitch Day or Idea Showcase, but it is important enough to help them focus.

As usual, some of the projects are going beautifully. Kids are designing video games, upcycling clothes, creating cookbooks, writing novels, creating and marketing products, and helping local organizations. Some projects, on the other hand, have stalled. This is normal. Not everyone will have an amazing product. After all, we don't assess on the product; we assess on the learning that occurred during the project time. Any grade that the kids receive will be a combination of the project learning and their reflection after final presentations. Only then will we really see what the kids have learned for themselves.