As we near the end of the Constructions Unit, I want to shift the responsibility for making constructions make sense to my students. I launch the Constructions Teaching Project, which gives students the chance to act as teachers, leading a review for the entire class. Today I talk through the guidelines, going over the content, the presentation, and the products students need to create.
I then show students the Group Assessment and Reflection, which will give all of them a chance to assess their own and each other's work. I have found that making my expectations clear by showing students how I will hold them accountable helps them to make better decisions and produce an overall higher quality product.
During this time, students begin planning their lesson and developing the materials they will need to effectively teach their lesson. I circulate the room during this time, acting as a consultant who listens to groups and assists them in identifying their needs, finding solutions to address their needs, and determining steps they can take to ensure they make high quality products and can deliver their lesson well. With some groups, I have found it useful to show them past examples of student products to give them an idea of what they can aim for.
Because students govern themselves for such a long period of time, I enforce the Group Roles (Task Managers, Facilitators, Resource Managers, Recorder/Reporters) so every student feels accountable for ensuring the group produces the highest quality work. Periodically, I like to call a huddle, where I have all the Task Managers, for example, come over to give me a status update on their group's progress and to identify next steps before returning to their groups--this helps to create a sense of urgency for the work and focuses groups to use their time wisely.
As I circulate the room, I make sure to give groups who seem to face more challenges extra time and help. This means that I sit down with them, ask them to give me a mini lesson, and provide feedback. Sometimes I model the construction and how I would explain how to perform it. Other times, after hearing group's mini lessons, I give them a small assignment (for example, to explain how to construct parallel lines in two different ways) and check back with them in about 10 minutes to give them additional feedback and suggestions.
To ensure that the group uses the next lesson well, I have students use the last ten minutes to reflect on the progress they have made so far and to determine next steps -- essentially, what they need to do as individuals to come prepared for the next class. During tomorrow's class groups will be expected to complete and rehearse their presentations. Typically, my students find the "homework" they assign themselves worthwhile because they feel a sense of responsibility to themselves and the group and because they understand how it fits into the project as a whole.