Thursday, April 24, 2008

Writing Again Soon

The last meeting got off track with having to deal with an IEP issue of a particular student. We didn't get much done in the meeting and I worked most of Wednesday and Thursday talking with each teacher individually and preparing for the launch on Friday.

I am still busy trying to get ready so I will write a lot this weekend.

Talk to you again soon!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Counting Down

We are meeting twice this week to work out any small details to the project. Everyone is getting excited about the project. Today's meeting was focused on the food, lesson plan for Friday's launch and any last minute preparation items.

The first item on the agenda was discussing test questions. This is a new aspect to the project brought about by me. Many of our students are not performing at grade level. Even with different types of instruction (cooperative learning, lecture, hands-on activities) the students still do not retain knowledge. I think project-based learning may be the solution for these type of students. To prove my belief, I decided to make this a small research project. We will have the students complete a pre-test with two to three questions from each subject area. Some of the questions may be something they are familiar with and others may be something they will discover through the project based upon the standards we want them to learn. The students will also complete a post-test and a survey upon completion of the project. Small interviews will be conducted targeting specifically 10 of the lowest performing students and 10 of the highest throughout the project. All of this will help aid if project-based learning is the best strategy for lowest performing students.

Explaining my purpose in an email, the teachers were to email or hand me their questions. At the meeting, DeAnn (science) was the only one who had completed the questions. I was still debating on two questions. Everyone has to submit them by tomorrow's meeting. DeAnn always gets things done early and we love her for that quality. She inspired me to get my grades posted five days in advance.

The next item on the agenda was final details to the launch on Friday. The first detail was food to be served. Although, I thought the options was going to be one per culture, the conversation really took off. The aim of the tasting is for the food to be healthy items but relevant to the culture of the student population. By the end of the discussion, the list included fried tofu, edemme, guacamole with chips, brown rice, baby carrots and celery, bread and tabule. There might also be some crackers thrown in there thanks to Mary's purchase over the weekend. All of us are going to chip in on the purchase of items and preparation before the event.

Other last minute details for the launch included not having paper on the tables to conserve paper. I will be making the signs and strips letting each student know what team they are on. I will also get the projector and laptop from the instructional facilitators that morning and place in the library so that it can be easily accessed that afternoon. Permission had been granted for the use of the cafeteria for the entire timeblock by the principal. I am going to check to see if Ben can go down to the cafeteria after timeblock 3 on Thursday and make sure the doors will be open and the first few tables will be available.

The last part of the meeting was the review of the outline of the lesson plan. Only DeAnn got a chance to review it early. She didn't see any changes that needed to be made. During the meeting, everyone had a chance to view and everyone thought it was a great format. We confirmed that all of the rubrics will be given at the launch but only one per team. We agreed that contract among students will be started at the launch but completed the following week. Students will end the project by submitting their questions for the interview with the principal and cafeteria manager.

Tomorrow's meeting will focus on the details of combining classes and final formation of a time line. This project is getting more and more exciting by the minute!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Confirming-April 16th Meeting

This meeting focused on confirming dates of interviews and locations as well as launching scenario and management of process. Interviews with cafeteria manager and principal will be April 30th in the school's little theater at 1:30 p.m. We discussed the possibility of having a speaker from the local co-op organization and a chef from a local culinary school. Deann with follow up with the co-op while I contact the culinary school.

Everyone agreed with my launch idea presented in the last meeting. More details to the organization of the launch was completed. As suggested in the Reinventing Project Based Learning book, we will have students complete their own contract. We will also look at preassigned tables of the teams and having food tasting at the table. We are also looking at getting a copy of the movie "Super-size me" and show a snippet.

We started an initial planning of what day each week we will have joint classes to work on the project. Deann and I will pair up first week in my room. The students will review not only their process but also the collection of data for charts. Debra and I will also pair up the following week for the survey results. Our next meeting will focus on the remaining weeks and any other tweaking of the process. Right now, our management process is more of an outline. We will firm up the details at the next meeting and monitor it during the project.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mapping Date Details-April 9th

The project-based learning planning process is so much better with a group. Everyone sees the project from different perspectives. This allows the project to have richness and depth. This aspect really shows its presence in this meeting.

Our meetings are much more fluid now that everyone knows the big picture and are excited about the effect it will have on the students. Currently, our team has most of the lowest performing students. The majority of the students are Hispanic with English as their second language. Regardless of demographics, most of the students are at a 4th grade reading level. Many of the students also do not perform well in mathematics. With this in mind, I am curious how much of an impact project-based learning has on low performing students. I am going to research how I can successfully track the results of this project.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss any changes to the rubrics and map out specific deadlines. Our meeting began with an examination of most of the rubrics. The menu rubric was not discussed because no one had received a copy yet. We started with the research rubric since I had a question about it. The research report rubric seemed more like a formal paper than the planning process Deann (science) presented in a prior meeting. She agreed and decided to change the title as well as some of the other components.

Discussion how the research would focus on the scientific method lead into the true elements of the survey. Instead of looking at questions and proper calculation, the students will look at questions on how students would want to change the cafeteria as well as culturally relevant food. Students will provide questions to create one survey. Ben suggested to get at least three questions from each group since their actually may only be one good question in the questions. Therefore, the survey rubric will need to reflect an emphasis on question amount and formating. This also changes the graphing rubric to include proper calculation and diagramming in it instead of the survey.

The business proposal rubric was decided to remain unchanged. However, turning my review once again of the rubrics, I thought sources should be added. This was on the research rubric but seemed even more appropriate with the business proposal. I discussed this with Ben and he said teaching them correct referencing may be too much. I suggested that it did not need to be extensive but just something so they an be aware of not taking others words as their own. He said he would rather not teach them at all then have them unlearn the wrong way. I wonder if this is really the right direction.

Time quickly flew in this meeting with the majority focused on the rubrics discussion. We quickly moved through setting dates. I was glad I had an agenda for everyone to see what we needed to schedule and time frame. With the Microsoft Outlook calendar projected on the screen, we went through who would be responsible for obtaining and dates of interviews/products.

Interviewing the cafeteria manager and principal will be a combined session as soon as the project starts. We decided to see their availability for April 28th to May 2nd. Mary (special education-English) and Debra (social studies) led the way for acquiring these confirmations. Deann's research strategy would be done by April 29th. The survey questions are done by May 1st with the actual completion of the survey done by May 9th. We are going to use Zoomerang or InspireData for the collection of the responses. The remaining dates were menu for May 16th and final business proposal on May 23rd. There may be a rough draft of the proposal but this will be left up to Ben.

As the meeting was quickly ending, I proposed one idea for launching the project. On April 25th, we would take the students to the cafeteria. It will be used as the launching pad to discussion and brainstorming. I asked everyone to think of any additional ideas for the next meeting.

If you want to see the rubrics, check out under documents.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Really Busy

I am so sorry about the delay in updating the website. We have had two meetings since my last post. We are also started testing since my last post. I hope to update the website tomorrow with all the details. The actual launch of the project is next Friday (April 25th). I will be taking pictures to view of how the launch turned out.

Please be patient for an update tomorrow.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Teams Set & Rubrics to be reviewed

Establishing teams is very challenging to do. You want personalities to mix well but you want strengths to be distributed as well. In my own classroom, my students are always setting in group s of three to four. Within each group, each student is paired with another student. Typically it is a great or average student paired with a weaker student.

Our school's instructional facilitator created cooperative learning groups for the English teacher based on the students reading score. As I stated in the previous post, this was the basis of the grouping with also a mixture of personalities. The team focused on revising the original team list. Some students were moved but the conversation was very interesting.

We moved students based upon being friends and probably accomplishing nothing together. Other students were moved to offer a true mix of abilities. It was funny how we discussed how some students need to be moved due to their lack of work ethic. I presented the case instead of spreading out the non-workers to teams that do work, let's see if putting in one group would work. This gives them the opportunity to share in a zero together or rise to the occasion because they have no one to lean on.

Most of us finished our rubrics and shared them with review. We will discuss any changes to rubrics, time lines and how to launch at the meetings next week. We will only meet on Wednesday to Friday next week.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Establishing Teams

Our team meeting was changed to Friday. In preparation for the meeting, I complied tentative teams. Our school instructional facilitators completed a cooperative learning grouping based upon reading scores for the English teacher. I used this list as a guide to group students together in groups of three. Thankfully, the total number of students involved allowed for it to be no groups of four as we agreed.

I also meet with one of the team mates today to create a rubric for the survey assessment. The teacher never used Rubistar before and we completed a rubric together. We laughed at simple mistakes we were making as we were learning how to use a new piece of technology. The online rubic maker is one of the best around. I had used it before but only for already existing rubrics. I never created one of my own. It was frustrating to see one click of the button and we missed all that we typed but we laughed at how this sort of thing happens with using technology. We decided to retype the description section the next day.

I can't wait for tomorrow's meeting.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Products Confirmed

We are almost at the end of our planning. In our last meeting, we clarified the actual products we will grade. A couple of the products still lack detail as to what will actually be graded but team mates were assigned the products to produce a rubric by Friday.

There will be a total five assessments. We will assess their research/interview skills. The teacher responsible for the rubrics for this category is the science teacher, DeAnn. Survey is another assessment with a rubric created by Debra (social studies) and myself. A chart will also be graded and rubric created by me. The remaining products are a menu and a proposal. Mary and Ben will grade and create a rubric for those products. Originally, we were looking to do a presentation but it was replaced by just a proposal due to the time needed to present and the lack of time to have all the teams present.

Our next meeting is tomorrow, we are going to focus on the nuts and bolts of the project. This includes when the project will start and end. How we will present the project to students as well as when we will have to teach specific items in the classroom. The most tasking part of the next meeting is dividing the groups into teams.

During this meeting, I presented the idea of incorporating the upper class with freshman. Currently, everyone on the team (but myself) teaches at least one upper level course. I thought it might be helpful for the freshman's work ethic development to be increased because of an upper class person being on the team. This will be ironed out at the meeting.

I am getting more and more excited about the project. I can't wait for the actual launch to see how well our project idea will be received by the students. The principal agreed to be interviewed by the students and review the proposals for consideration. This will really lend weight to the project.