Whenever we take a risk and try something new, it's important to evaluate the outcome of the risk.
They won't all work out the way we want.
However, rather than make a wholesale decision about whether or not something was successful, we can closely examine the process from beginning to end to determine what worked and what needs adjustment in the future if the assignment were to be used again.
Now that the Hamlet Character Evaluation project has come to an end and the projects have been submitted, it is important for me to review the formative data from when I met with groups during their working process and then read their reflections and review their Google form answers to determine the overall success of the project.
So I ask myself the following questions in reflection:
Did the students meet the learning objectives set forth at the beginning of the unit?
What are the indicators to support the above
Are the skills replicable in future assignments?
Did this assignment really address the standards that the original assignment did?
What percentage of the class really walked away with a valuable learning experience based on their reflections?
How can I modify the assignment in the future to better meet all student needs?
Undoubtedly, there is a disproportionate spread of students who took something meaningful away from the assignment, which isn't uncommon in a 12th grade classroom. One student said, "perhaps this didn't work out the way we thought it would, but it was an excellent learning experience." He was speaking about the group he ended up in and how he ended up doing most of the work. My response to him was that we had to take a risk to know and then I asked him how we could have improved the experience. "I think it was just my group that was the issue."
One of the challenges we also hoped to address with the assignment was student participation in the reviewing of classwork. I worked with the students who designed the assignment to put together the Google form and we decided students would be held accountable for their viewing of the videos and the learning they were supposed to take away from each as well as providing feedback for students about what they developed.
More will be revealed after the first viewing.
Here are a few examples of the final projects:
Here is what some students had to say about the experience:
"Doing this project was both frustrating and educating. Being able to diagnose the character I was assigned (Laertes) was very helpful because it helped me to further analyze his characteristics and mental thoughts. However, the process of showing Laertes diagnosis was a hard and stressful one." - Kelly, high school senior
"Too much freedom that may have lead to a lack of structure.. groups ended up depending on each other for ideas on how to approach the project and it might have been difficult for people who had a minor character." - Barbara, high school senior and co-designer of the project
"This was a good way for people to open their minds more when they're reading. Not a lot of people read and think "what is psychologically wrong with this character?' It allowed people to create their own opinions towards the characters." - Gillian, high school senior and co-designer of the project
After the first day of viewing, I'm impressed with what students came up with. Most groups showed a good understanding of the character and his/her function in the play. Creatively each group came up with a diagnosis and a treatment plan that seemed appropriate given their earlier work.
Admittedly, I was expecting a catastrophe and was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. The Google form data will reveal more data that will offer another way to adjust the project and learning in the future.
As teachers, we need to allow projects to play out as they will, adjusting as we go and making sure to really examine the data before we make a judgment on the success of what has transpired. As long as we have collected multiple pieces of data, we can easily point to student learning and growth and then problem shoot or provide supports where needed.
How do you review data from a project to assess the success of the overall expectations? Please share
*This post originally ran on my Education Week Teacher Blog in March of 2016