Thursday, May 28, 2015

Caught in the Webb!

The semi-annual proclamation of the end of the year in Themes in Literature began early this morning in first period.  Our district offers seniors in good standing the opportunity for a "senior exemption" from final exams next week if their discipline logs and attendance are superior, and they have an A in the class.  It's a wonderful motivational perk for the seniors each year, but a tad stressful for classroom teachers counting on their seniors to rise to the occasion during presentations that might occur during finals week.  For my class, it meant that my seniors began their Talent Development Opportunity (TDO) presentations today, sharing their focused obsession for the semester, along with their metacognitive reflection of the process.

They did not disappoint.

There were students that explored various artistic techniques, one who played and analyzed APBA, a "fantasy" baseball game, one that explored learning Italian in anticipation of a trip this summer, and an upcycled Chinese character book that now contains gel printing and inspirational quotes.  Amelia shared her NHD project passion, and many in the group echoed the value of NHD as an experience that any gifted or talented student should consider adding to their schedules to help prepare for college.
There was an entire book of thoughtful free-verse poetry that brought tears to the eyes of more than a few.

As I sat and listened to each presentation, I highlighted the words on the Webb's DOK wheel that the described the projects, or that the students used in their reflections.

DESIGN.  CONNECT. SYNTHESIZE.

APPLY CONCEPTS.

CRITIQUE.

ANALYZE

CREATE

PROVE

Draw conclusions, Cite Evidence.  Construct, Hypothesize

They were caught in the Webb!

Yes!  It worked!  My SLO goals to encourage students to identify and execute a project while systematically considering their metacognitive process throughout their project had every single student (who has presented so far) move from Level 1 in their initial project proposals, gradually becoming more involved in their projects, digging deeply and advancing through the levels with an ever-increasing intensity with each month's reflection.  Every single student experienced every level of thinking in their process.

Oh, and amazed their classmates, and, once again, blew away their teacher with their insight and accomplishments.

There are no rubrics (aside from Webb's DOK) for this project.  Go ahead and argue, but I know for sure that rubrics, with these kids, would only LIMIT their abilities.  My lack of rubrics for TDOs mean that the learners reach for the moon and land among the stars, instead of identifying the correct number of beans needed to satisfy the beancounter teacher.

The world needs more stars.  And fewer beans.

At least in my world.