One was called The Great Element Debate. This project was a way to review what we learned in the first quarter, mainly because about half of my students bombed their 1st quarter exam (regardless of the review packet and the weekly quizzes). But that's a whole other post.
In this project, students were divided into groups. Within their groups, they were assigned one element as well as individual roles of evidence, presenter, and cross examiner. The evidence teams were to provide a poster of visual evidence for their team. The presenter was to present the facts about their element. The cross examiners were to come up with evidence against other elements. What were they debating? Which element is the best element of design, and the most important to art! (Of course!)
Could this project possibly have been inspired by my Jury Duty assignment? Just maybe!
The project lasted 6 days in total. One day to explain the project, 4 days for the students to work, and one day for the actual "court date" debate. This worked out well because we had two 3-day weeks prior to Thanksgiving.
On the day in which "Element Court" was in session, I assigned a stenographer, a bailiff and 2 court reporters. The court reporters were equipped with Flip Cameras and were asked to interview the teams both before and after the debate. My goal is to compile this video into a short and fun clip of what we accomplished. (So stay tuned!)
What failed (or better said, What would I do differently?)?
The court date was on the day before Thanksgiving and a lot of students were not present. Students were well aware that the court date/presentation would happen that Wednesday, so I was very surprised that only one student told me ahead of time that she would not be present. Students who did not come to school that day received a 0 which significantly affected their grade. I did, however, offer a make up opportunity in which students could not receive better than a C and only a handful took me up on that offer. Regardless, it was difficult when students who were assigned the role of presenter (for example) were not present to present for their team. In one case, the entire team was not present and one student had to take on the entire load! (Yes, of course, she received an A and extra credit!)
Also, I find it rather difficult to grade students for group work. I try to take at least one day of participation. For example, I will choose a random day to grade participation within the group. If a student is not doing anything, they have a grade of a 0. Other than that, I had students record any planning (writing/drawing) in their sketchbooks and I used that to reference when assigning an individual grade for their group participation.
I also find it interesting how some groups of students will really get into the project- my 3rd period was the most exuberant and really took on the roles as they presented with confidence and cross examined with ferocity! While my 7th period was a little out of control, and my 1st period couldn't seem to care less.
Regardless of the students' extro(or intro)verted-ness, I was fairly impressed to see the thoughtfulness that went into the debate information. Overall, I think this was a really great review project. It was interactive and different, and filled up two very awkward 3 day weeks with connected education.
(Again, I will be posting the video soon! Stay tuned!)