I would like to publically complement the Students in Mrs. Yodowitz's Family and Consumer Science class for the brilliant work they have done in their money management "entrepreneur" class. Although the actual "semester time" dedicated to the project was only two weeks, much was accomplished and many ingenous and insightful business ventures have been begun, planned or envisioned. Time is always the enemy in any education plan, as the curriculum is always expanding and the technology is not always available or dependable. This project was no exception to the rule-and the kids voiced some frustrations with that. They also exceeded their mentor's learning curve and could have benefited greatly from additional in world skills support. Still - most pledged to continue their projects until the end of their year and that will enable me to collect some valuable data!
What have we learned? Our open-ended tasks were met with zeal, and the kids' vision was most often the motivating force behind their skill mastery. When the students approached me with a really sophisticated idea, I tried to never respond with "You can't do that," but, rather with a, "Let me find out how we can approach this". (Then came frantic emails or IMs to Gus and Ryl who always made the time to help.)
My kids were "teaching the teacher" within a very short time.
So, for those of you who are in the formative stages of planning, try to budget for in-world mentors, invest a reasonable amount of time training teachers, and create flexible open-ended plans that allow for incremental, differentiated tasks. Encourage peer leadership and mentoring among the students - they are your greatest resource!
Next week we begin the Of Mice and Men project, the Invention Museum will open, Mrs. Braut's ESL class will be role playing a visit to the doctor's office and Mr. Jaffee's music project will get underway. Oh my!