Reflection: Student Ownership Evolution - A Ten-Day Project - Section 4: Choosing a Project


Evolution, like many other topics in science, covers a wide array of ideas. The projects you see here were collected over several years, and I have run each one as a stand alone project. Each time, I had students that were very interested and students that were not. In my quest to get all students involved it dawned on me that the interest, or lack thereof, was really due to the the different formats - some students are intrigued by the creative aspect of the "designer species", others like the concreteness of "exploring success" and a few prefer to delve into the discrete content of "correcting misconceptions" or "evolution of flight". 

This is one of the main reasons why I finally decided to collect them all into a single project, and gave students the choice. In turn this meant that students would all be at different points, so I needed a central hub to house all project ideas, a way to hold everyone accountable, and also be able to access all student work for feedback at any given time. This is where technology has become my best ally.

Project hosting: If you have seen any of my other PBL experiences (Genetics, Cells, Human Body), you might have noticed that I use WIX (a free webpage creator) almost exclusively. The real reason is one of aesthetics, since I can customize everything on the sites I create without any coding experience. When I first started, I used the many free templates they had, and as I became more familiar with it I moved on to "starting from scratch". The site also offers many tutorials, which I have used any time I decide I "need" to add something and am not able to figure it out by myself. However this is not the only way to do this. At my site I have teachers that use Google sites, Weebly or Wordpress achieving the same kind of PBL documents.

Accountability and Feedback: These are two key components of any PBL experience, that can make it or break it. You do not want to wait until presentation day to realize that the students spent the last two weeks doing "research" and have little to show for it. Throughout the project the teacher needs to assume the role of facilitator of discussions, direct students' thinking, and ensure that they are practicing those all important critical thinking skills. The perfect time to address the rigor in the project is during class-time, as the project is being developed. This is why I developed the project management sheet. As students work on their project, the PMS provides us with a two-way communication document, where all feedback is work and feedback is recorded. At any given time, I am able to see what is being done and provide feedback before it is too late. 

  So Many Choices
  Student Ownership: So Many Choices
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Evolution - A Ten-Day Project

Unit 8: Evolution
Lesson 16 of 17

Objective: Students will be able to apply the concepts learned during the evolution in one of five different ways.

Big Idea: Students take control of their own learning.

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