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Hello, Amfellows.  This week our project concluded as the students ended =
their first quarter courses and moved on today, Nov. 7 to new social =
studies classes within our block schedule. =20
Since our last posting, the students concluded their research, developed =
their final products, presented them to the class, and evaluated the =
project, in terms of processes employed, resources utilized, and the =
quality of their final products. =20

The following reflections are very TENTATIVE.  They represent our =
perspective having just concluded the project, but without a careful =
analysis of the students=27 exit evaluations of the project, or a thorough =
revisiting of the work products we collected from selected high, middle =
and low achievers in the class.

Process

1.  Students on the whole felt positive about the structure we established =
for developing the project.  Many commented on the =22scaffolding=22 (Bill =
Tally=27s description, and we think a useful one) we created to guide them =
through the quarter and create the final product.  Some students didn=27t =
like the many papers and instruction sheets we provided to them, but this =
was a minority view.

2.  Students commented favorably on the constant feedback provided to them =
for drafts of their work products.  With few exceptions, they saw this as =
meaningful in developing a better final product, irrespective of its =
format.

3.  Students desired more in-class time to collaborate on their projects.  =
They felt there was a need to have more group work time and they desired =
more individual meetings or q/a sessions with the teachers to get their =
questions answered.  To some degree, this was a challenge because I =
absented myself from the class to permit my student teacher to have =
autonomy in teaching the course, although I retained direction over the =
American Memory Project.

Resources Used

1.  There were mixed responses to the American Memory site and its utility =
as a source depository for the project.  Some students felt it was =
difficult to search the site to get what they needed.  Others had no =
problems whatsoever, and praised its variety and detail. =20

2.  Students expressed some frustration in designing magazines and =
scrapbooks electronically, but felt overall it was a worthy experience to =
attempt to design them using desktop publishing programs.  More time spent =
on helping them learn the design tools for such projects was desired.

3.  A number of students commented that requiring 25 sources (15 primary, =
10 secondary) for the project was excessive. At the same time, others felt =
having a broad range of sources was helpful, as that facilitated the =
development of content depth in their final products.

Quality

1.  Most students felt they were able to successfully learn in depth about =
their topic(s).  More often than not, they were able to demonstrate more =
than superficial understanding both in the written product and their =
presentations.

2.  Some students recognized that they needed to prepare more effectively =
for their oral presentations and q/a sessions with the class about their =
final products.  Since students received individual quality ratings for =
their oral presentations and group ratings for their final products =
(magazine, scrapbook, or powerpoint presentations with outlines), there =
was a balance that some didn=27t manage effectively.

3.  Students felt they received comprehensive evaluations (each project =
and the oral presentations received 3 faculty ratings based upon rubrics =
and rating scales were developed). Only one student felt the evaluations =
were too tough (out of 25).

So, that=27s our report for right now.  Harlene and I have retained the =
final products and we=27ll be providing more data and feedback as we =
pursue the thorough analysis of each student=27s work products this =
November and December.  Periodically, we=27ll post additional reflections =
and findings.

Regarding the =22scaffolding=22 materials and copies of the final =
products, we=27ll send you packages in December with the items employed to =
structure the process, as well as sample student work products.  We =
welcome your feedback and ideas as we prepare to revise the project for =
piloting again from February through May 1998.

See you in Cincinnati=21

Best regards,

Bill Fernekes and Harlene Rosenberg