the case for projects part ii
3 min read
You already know how I feel about projects in general, but since only half the class wished to partake in the movie creation, I had to find something else for the rest of the class to do. 🥴
I knew what I didn't want: a freakin' report or a power point. 🤮
I also didn't want students spending any time outside of class with whatever they decided to do. No busy work.
I already mentioned that I wanted the final submission to be a quality product. And I really didn't care what it was (just not a report or a power point). What I put out there for students to consider, too, was the opportunity to relate it to their course of study at the university, however they decided to make that connection.
My instruction-giving skills have never been the best, but fortunately, my ability to "go with the flow" is second-to-none (save for suggestions of reports or power points! 🤣). So I basically told the students to think about something they could create that would marry what they learned in our class with something they learned in another class and/or present it in a way that would be relevant to other course material.
See what I mean about my instructions?
On the last day of class each student would present their projects, you know, presentational mode or whatever. I told them not to prepare specifically for the speaking, but rather give it their best shot. They did! And by and large, I was impressed. I mean, for this crew of students who have been educated behind screens for the last couple of years, the simple act of getting up in front of their peers in an elementary SPAN 1002 class without protesting was a WIN!
Some of the projects: a poem, a menu of Venezuelan food as was presented in our coursework, a print ad to advertise to the Venezuelan market, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs (psych majors) as applied to the story we read.
Here's what you can't see:
The student who submitted the top project spoke SO WELL, even without preparing. Typically, the only words out of her mouth is released in a whine and in English (no joke). But for this project, the student spoke in complete sentences and passionately about what she learned. I asked the class if anyone else was a floored as I was with [her] speaking. A few nodded their heads. WIN - for her, for me, for the others.
The student who submitted the print ad was absent (a senioritis flare-up 🙄) told me he was going to do a power point. Yeah, NO! So I told him to relate the project to his upcoming job at a sports drink company. He got to work right away - because it was interesting to him. Did he make it connect superbly with the course content... go with the flow, I say.
The woman who turned in the menu. I was not quite impressed until she explained each of the offerings and how they related to the story we read, the documentary we watched and the podcast we listened to. This student is long out of high school and completely new to Spanish, so this also was a WIN.
We all know that I'll never be the one writing the book on pedagogy or methodology - thank heavens! But if you ever have the opportunity to suspend disbelief and the ability to "go with the flow," try it. The potential for development of other skills is great: time management, changing course mid-project, implementation and use of new apps (Canva, anyone?), making connections between their interests and other coursework.
Both thinking and creativity are at a premium these days. In allowing for both without fear of penalty, we are doing a great service to our students. And to ourselves.