Monday, May 18, 2015

Heavy Experiential Learning.

 The countdown on the board was changed, early this morning, by the first kid to enter my room.  13 1/2 days to go for students.  Before that last day of school, along with all the fun associated with the celebrations that follow final exams, there are projects of all sorts, and papers piling on teachers' desks.  The challenge has been issued -- I truly WANT to be grading 27 research papers this coming weekend.

Considering that the alternative is spending next week begging, pleading, and threatening those who haven't yet turned them in, as successful completion of this final paper is a graduation project requirement.  It's tough to get freshmen to be motivated by "it's a requirement for graduation" when that seems so very far away.

The final paper for Information Literacy is a five page research paper, complete with a works cited page and in text citations.  For some freshmen, this appears to be a ridiculously difficult task to complete.  (Honestly, the moaning and cajoling for some would make one wonder if the torturous task at hand involved giving up a kidney...)  FIVE PAGES?  Sheesh!  

And then I point out that they probably texted more words than that in the last week.  Somehow, that offers little solace.

Two young men have both expressed interest in careers operating heavy machinery.  They've written as much as they can, based upon their research, and truly are at a loss for, well, words -- meaning - enough words to fill the necessary pages to satisfy the requirement.   Lucky for them, our district employes an amazing dude named Randy, who is generous with his time, and trusting with his keys. 

Imagine being fifteen years old.  Too young to drive, and standing next to a giant backhoe, when you're invited to climb in to the cab and control the bucket, swing around in the seat, and work the opposite end?  The questions were great, the interviews were strong, (and recorded on cellphones!), and not a single moan or complaint about added this new resource to the works cited page when we got back to the classroom.
Experiential learning motivated two less-than-motivated students to seek the questions and answers, and play with some seriously heavy equipment under the guidance of an expert.  (And the papers will be turned in on time, by the end of the week!) 

If only every student had the chance to have a reason to care about their research assignments, and a mentor, like Randy, willing to extend a few minutes, and change an outlook.

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