Class begins with the students filing into the computer lab and sitting with both partners at one computer. They first log into our Edmodo classroom page where they will find a short quiz that reviews the previous day's lesson. They are told they can work together on the quiz, but cannot speak out loud. It is a good way to get them back into the frame of mind that centers on the types of characters we have begun studying, but it also gets them working together to accomplish a small task in order to have some success (hopefully) to build on. I selected the pairs carefully to match students with one another in a way that their skill sets will complement one another. Since these pairs are not comprised of students who would likely have selected one another, I find this small activity to be helpful in setting the proper tone.
I begin by quickly reviewing the Character Type Project Powerpoint from the previous day that outlines the project expectations. In our computer lab at my school, we have a program called LanSchools that allows me to view and connect to each and every computer in the lab. I use this to show all the students my screen as I go through the powerpoint presentation. This helps me to be sure they are focused on the information I am providing and not playing around on the computer when I am not looking directly at them.
I also make the presentation available to the students on our classroom www.edmodo.com classroom page, for future reference if needed. I feel it is important to review this with the students after they have had an evening to begin thinking about their own presentations, to ensure they have clarity and feel confident in their ability to complete the task.
In the presentations they will give, I am expecting them to provide the following, as a minimum:
The remainder of the class is reserved for the students to begin officially working on their presentations. I move about the room and check in on the groups to be sure they are on-track. As mentioned in my powerpoint, the students are expected to get my approval once they have completed the first two slides prior to moving on. The students are usually excited to be in the lab and to be working on a task that holds them accountable for supporting their peers' learning, so it is a fun environment to be a part of.
This particular activity requires the students to demonstrate their ability to effectively communicate, determine key information, and include relevant evidence/exemplar text to accurately show their concept. The students may struggle a bit with the use of the Powerpoint program, as some of them have rarely if ever used it up to this point. I make sure to keep an eye out for any signs of this, but hope that at least one member of each partnership has adequate confidence in their ability to use it. Ideally, this will be an opportunity for the students to help one another more effectively utilize the program's features. The most specific area that students may need support is in how to cite the text they are using for the example. My personal preference is to include a footer on that particular slide with the title of the text, author, and copyright date. I demonstrate this for them at the start of the lesson, but expect to show them again since they are unlikely to have ever needed to do that before.
Students should get a solid start on their presentations in this time frame. Prior to the conclusion of the class period, pairs should determine what I refer to as "next steps" in order to maintain momentum and ensure that they will be able to successfully complete the task on time. It isn't intended to be formal, as I try to allow the students some autonomy in their process. The only time I make it formal is when I have a pair that appears to be struggling, or that I fear may not complete the task successfully in the allotted time. When that happens, and I have to formalize the "next steps" process, I sit down with the pair and discuss their plans and provide my own suggestions to support them as well.