Day 4 – Introductory Week
I started the day by leading the students with a Check-In meeting. During this meeting, I modeled how to start with a quick question (like “How’s everybody doing today?”) to get a feel how people are feeling and what energy level they’re bring to the start of class. After the opening question, I moved on to the acknowledgements section. I feel it’s important that the students learn how to identify and acknowledge strengths in each other’s work. Plus, who doesn’t want to hear that they’re doing a good job? Following acknowledgements, I open the floor for anyone to share suggestions or vent frustrations regarding any group’s or any student’s work performance. Before starting this at a meeting, I introduced this strategy to the students clearly explaining that for this to work, we would all need to have an open mind. It actually helped me talk to the students about the concept of constructive feedback. For feedback to really be constructive, the receiving party must be open to seeing the feedback as an opportunity for growth. This is when I introduced the students to the benefits of a Growth Mindset (an idea discovered and developed by Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University).
Finally, we got to the main part of the meeting, the peer review process. This process is critical to developing a strong Project Based Learning program. I distributed copies of each group’s rough drafts and had the students read the first form. As they read through the form, I advised them to make notes of parts that they liked and parts that they thought could be improved. For the parts that could be improved, I asked them to provide suggestions for possible changes to the text. Once everyone got to read the form and make any necessary notes, we went around the room and shared with the group what we liked most and what we thought could be improved. During this time, I instructed the group, who authored this form, to follow along and take note of each student’s feedback. We did this for all three forms (the Group Contract, the Peer Reflection Form, and the Skill Set Assessment). By then, the period had already ended.
Even though we’ve been focusing on developing the foundations for Project Based Learning, all of the students are engaged. What’s especially important is that they’re involved in every aspect of the learning experience. They know that their opinion counts. In four days, I’ve already seen students developing a stronger presence in the classroom, taking more and more ownership of their learning.
By the way, here’s a sample agenda of a basic Check-In Meeting:
- Opening Question/Activity
- Constructive Feedback/Opportunities for Growth
- Task(s) Overview
It’s a simple agenda and will probably be altered later on, but for now it serves its purpose.