18 April 2013

Final Showcase

For the final showcase of ‘The Octopus’s Garden Project’, learners created a group presentation as our final showcase - which brought together each of the five team’s research, as outlined in their team presentations. In addition, learners had to complete a final report individually outlined their research and learning.

Final Showcase: Decision

Learners decided on this final method following reflections they wrote about the learning done in the phase 3, the research and team presentations phase. We spent a great deal of time organising the presentation so that everyone contributed - for more details, see my blog posts ‘Managing the Octopus’ and ‘Final Phase Begins’. What was great about bringing all their learning together in one place as a group and by talking all the decisions through and evaluating each slide’s position, was the link they made between organising and linking ideas in this activity and how this might translate into good essay writing! This is an essential English skill that is often not learned effectively through 'teaching' essay skills. Plenty of feedback is given on their weekly blogs and written assignments, but I believe that the actual hands-on nature of this organisational activity and the discussion we had about it as a whole was more effective in cementing this skill as they did it physically with sticky notes.

Final Showcase: Project Management

Each team member had a role and each was responsible for at least one slide and the script for that slide to allow them to put into practise their persuasive writing skills as well as demonstrate their research and findings - in addition, they had their role as editor etc. so that all were responsible. Most were present at rehearsals that took place during learners’ break-times and most gave feedback, whilst all made on the spot edits as class rehearsals were taking place. You can read more about this in my blog post, ‘Almost there...

Final Showcase: The Presentation

I was surprised at their choice of wanting to do the final showcase live after learning how to create and edit on YouTube, however they wanted to use the eye contact, body language and hand gesture skills we had covered to help with their persuasive language skills they had developed and so they chose to create a Google presentation and deliver it live.

I do think that they could have included more multimedia or interactive elements - such as video or interviews, summaries of reports, and footage of different elements being used etc. It was very ‘traditional’ in a sense, but then this is the first time we have done any projects like this. I think a video would have allowed for a lot more creativity and would have allowed learners too shy to do it live to have contributed more. The quality of the actual slides was great as we had plenty of time to go over the material and check and some of their roles were editors. This redrafting and editing was also a really valuable skill as I believe many learners are reluctant to revisit work once they feel it is 'finished'. The editing work we did together allowed us the talk through language and grammar choices, reinforce the persuasive skills and discuss the importance of conciseness and clarity. We also set standards of font, English use and did a lot of work on visual storytelling and the importance of images over text on slides. We also built in a sound-board opportunity to allow for revision and review a few days before the actual event. Read more on my blog post ‘Reflection & Revision Opportunities’.

The actual presentation itself went very well. Learners were able to stand up to rigorous questioning from our Principal - and this was due in the most part to the knowledge they had acquired from their research. It became obvious that some learners contributed more because they felt more engaged due to having contributed throughout. Non-contribution was kept to a minimum through weekly peer-assessment by the Project Manager (who changed weekly to allow fair contribution of roles) using the co-constructed team work rubric that we developed from the bie.org one, but there are alwys those who do less and those who do more. Learners were also asked to complete a self-reflection on their contribution and collaboration based on this feedback, as I made it clear from the start that this was to be a major focus of the project.

Presentation Example (small team collaboration)

Example: Team presentations - practise (formative) to inform the final presentation

Final Showcase: Presentation Example (whole-group collaboration)

Example: The Presentation

Example: The Script

Final Showcase: Report

Learners had to complete an individual report based on their research and understanding of the project - workshop 1, workshop 2. This was to be assessed via a rubric, which was co-constructed with the learners and the final draft is posted on their blogs so there is a real audience. When we go back to school following the break, learners will comment on each other’s blogs as part of the reflection, review and peer assessment process.

Final Showcase: Report Examples (individual)

Example Blog

Example Blog

Example Blog

Final Showcase: My Reflection

I am very proud of how well the learners have developed this year. I am also very proud of how well this unit has gone, the skills we have covered and the distance we have come.

It has been a challenge to incorporate essential 21st century skills with core content and yet having a subject such as English, lends itself well to flexibility. I believe however, that Units like this afford plenty of authentic opportunities to teach skills that are often dull and lifeless.

I am grateful for having the opportunity to go on this journey with my learners. They have never been given free reign to choose their own learning in the past. The methodology of teaching and learning in the school before this year was very traditional and the learners were often unengaged. They were almost ‘unteachable’ last year according to the LS and ELS departments yet now, they are self-regulating and collaborating - all within six months of being allowed to take control and have responsibility over their own learning. I think as they get more used to this kind of learning and more adept at creating and presenting, they will start thinking more out of the box and become more creative.