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Giving it up thanks to Josh Stumpenhorst

This post originally appeared on .

Wow by Keith Hall

Creative Commons Attribution License


After reading Josh Stumpenhorst's blog post "Go ahead, give it up...", I decided to go ahead and give it up. I wanted my students to learn more about Internet safety and all things associated with it. I presented my students with a list of topics we needed to cover (In the future, if this all works out, I will let them create the list). The students each chose a topic in which they were interested. I grouped the students according to their interests. I then let them decide how they were going to group themselves from those groups. They could work by themselves or with other students from their groups. Next, I asked each group what they would like to create, Their creations  needed to show me what they learned about their particular topic. Finally, I required them to write brief descriptions of how they planned to go about reaching their goals.


The next day I asked my students to write down what they already thought they knew about their topics. I also asked them to write down three questions they had about their topics. Finally, I asked them to find the answers to the questions they had. If students finished within the period, I asked them to write down three more questions they had about the topic and find the answers to those questions. If a student said they didn't have any more questions about the topic, I didn't require the student to write any more. I just told the student to begin working on the project he or she had chosen.


The following two days, I met with each group individually to discuss their projects. The goal was for me to get an idea of where each group was headed. I asked probing questions about their topics and about their projects. The goal of the meetings was to help the students clarify what they needed to include in their projects and what those projects were going to look like.


For their projects, some students chose to create games using a site called Sploder Some students decided to create PowerPoint presentations. Some students decided to create movies using Flip cams and Movie Maker. I even had one student decide to write a paper about the topic. (That student has since changed his mind. He still doesn't know what he wants to create yet.)


That's as far as I got. Now, here is the amazing part (to me at least) . Not once in those four class periods did I have a student complain and ask, "Why do we have to do this?". Not once in those four class periods did I have to tell the students to get on task. They were doing what they wanted to do and doing what I wanted them to do even though I didn't dictate to them what  I wanted them to do (aside from the original topics).


I met with some of my colleagues and explained to them what I was doing. They asked an obvious question, "How are your going to evaluate them?". I gave them an honest answer. I said, "I don't know". Some of my colleagues suggested I use a rubric but didn't exactly describe for what I should be looking. Some suggested I  should look for grammatical errors etc. After some reflection I decided I would ask the students how they thought they should be evaluated. I haven't done that yet since I haven't seen the students since I made that decision.  I would like to have them reflect about this entire experience on a blog. Perhaps I can include their reflections in their evaluations.


I think some of my colleagues think I've lost my mind. They may be correct.


Comments and/or suggestions appreciated.

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