Friday, September 23, 2011

World History Update

In World History we are just about to complete our first unit - an intro to time, space, and history. I split the Iowa history and geography standards up over 8 units of World History instruction. I also turned each unit into a Project-Based format. The students have been comparing maps of their town from 50(ish) years ago to present-day maps, analyzing census data and population trends, and the students are not putting together proposals for the city council on what improvements or changes might be made to the town to address/align with current population trends.

Next week we will have a community member, a city council member, and a business person come into the class to hear the proposals and offer feedback and comments. The students will be given a 1-4 rating on the success with which they addressed each standard (there are two for this unit).

I feel like the first unit has gone well so far. I've tried to provide practice opportunities for all the pieces, and multiple opportunities for feedback. The hardest part has been working the structure of the class into the traditional gradebook. I know I could use a free online standards based gradebook, but parents know to check JMC, so that's an issue I've run into. I also have to assign grades to the practice assignments, which I'd prefer not to do. However, I made the "practice" worth a small percentage so the majority still comes from the actual project.

I think standards based grading and project based learning are important to the future of education. Students are creating, evaluating, and analyzing (upper levels of Bloom's). They are also getting practice and feedback, from me and from their peers and from the community on their work. By making it public we've added a level of legitimacy that encourages students to produce their best quality work.

The students are blogging right now as well, and I'm anxious to read their feedback. It has taken some adjusting, and I'm sure all the feedback from the students won't be positive at this point so early on, but I'm hoping that with their feedback I can address concerns and modify to meet their needs and make it better for unit 2!