Draft Day

Last year our 7th grade team created a PBL project for two schools that involved a murder mystery they had to solve, you can read more about it here.  We decided to do this again this year with just our 7th grade kids.  We went through and tweaked it to fit just our school since the first time we included two schools together.

The next part is one our favorite days in team.    It is called draft day.  We have a common team time where we get to create projects and collaborate. One thing we do in our grade is when we do a big project we do not include all the students.  We first go through and eliminate any one with F's, we let them use this time to get caught up on their work.  The other group of kids we eliminate are students that have proven to us they can not handle open ended projects and group collaboration.  This is the only time we do this. Since we do projects all the time, they do get plenty of time to have that experience.  Once those kids are picked out, this year we had 9 out of 127 kids, the draft officially begins
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 We put every kids name on the board and we then "draft" them and put them in groups of three.  We have found that is the perfect number for group work.  Each teacher gets a turn in picking a group and we just go around and draft all the kids until they have all been selected.  We group them by ability level and we try to put combinations of kids together that we know don't usually work together or would be a good combination to work together.

In our grade we give very few tests, because we want to "know" the kids so we have conversations where the kids explain what they have learned.  One of our favorite things to say is "you can't hide from a conversation."  We know the kids so much better than 4 years ago before we made the switch to 1:1 and project based learning. 

Since we mix up the kids throughout the year they are used to it.  It is definitely a culture that takes time to build, but it is without a doubt worth the fight in the beginning.  The kids are doing a great job with this project.  There is quite a bit of higher level math and the kids have tore into this project and they are really good. 

Since it is Istep week it is so interesting to see the kids in the morning taking multiple choice tests that have exactly one right answer working in silence compared to our afternoons where they are collaborating, sharing ideas, and solving a problem that has no one correct answer.  Our project has 9 suspects and we have created it so that 3 of them could be the killer.  How do we judge that?  It is based on their justification of their work, the way they connect the evidence to their suspect,  and how they present their information.

Today is our final day and I can't wait to see their final presentations.  I had one girl come up to me today and say " I am so excited today to present.  Normally I am so scared to present in front of people but not today.  Our presentation is awesome."  Wow, excitement about learning, can't argue with those results.

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