Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lesson Learned...

Here is an illustration I made for Ashley.  She has a major project for school on Ukraine and I made the dancers (Boris & Yuri) for one of her posters.
This project is one that entire freshman class had to complete - each student had to select a country from an "approved" list.  The students had the option of doing the project solo or working with a partner.  This project counts for 10% of their overall grade and has taken months to complete.
Now for the critique...
The scope of this project is outrageous... The Ukraine has a history a mile long and most of it is tarnished by corrupt politics so that accurate histories were not recorded.  
The scope of the project is so intense that the requirements are geared towards a college level research paper, rather than a 9th grade level project.
Now, each student (or couple) are required to do an oral presentation, have visual guides, actual artifacts (Ash & her partner are bringing in a Ukrainian egg), food from the country, wardrobe (they are to dress the part of Ukrainians).  They have researched the history, economics, math, language, cultural knowledge and more.

Ash learned a valuable lesson and only part of it was on the history of this former Soviet country.  Ash's "partner" in this project has a different work ethic than Ash.  Ash works hard and long on her assignments.  On the other hand, her partner has been plagued by many unnamed sicknesses, inactivity,  being too tired and too busy to work on it.  Each time they agreed to distribute the work, her partner failed to follow through.  Instead of doing any research, her partner sent Ash internet links on the subject matter rather than researching the topic, citing sources and creating a paper.
Her partner would tell Ash that rather than printing out a graph or picture, she wanted Ash to print it out so that the girl wouldn't waste her ink or paper.
So, a week and a half before the project was due (May 19) Ash realized that her partner's procrastinations were amounting to a problem.
When Ash discussed the issue with her partner, the partner started talking gibberish (explaining about how much work she has done and how Ash is getting depressed over the project and how they need to slow down and make this fun).

Lesson - Well, this was actually one of the best things that could have happened because Ash realized that her partner was actually not going to contribute to the project and was not someone that she could depend on.
1. Ash told me that she learned not to do a project with a friend when given the option of working solo.
2. She also learned that in order to achieve her goal, she had to create a to-do list for the project and complete each item on the list - even if that meant doing it solo.

We encouraged Ashley to learn from this project and to learn that "friends" are not always what they seem.  While I wish Ash had learned this valuable lesson before, I am glad that she got the message.

Now, as for the project, I have no confidence that the teacher assigned to grade these projects will actually do them justice.  Here is a project that Ash has put in over 40 hours on... How can a teacher spend 5 min observing her presentation and adequately grade her project?  6-8 teachers have to grade 175 kids (somewhere around 100+ projects in the course of one morning 9 am - 1 pm).  There is no way that the authenticity and the accuracy can be thoroughly checked.
Since this is the case, why bother assigning such a task?

Oh- they kids spent Friday with various teachers touching base on the project.  The vice principal advised the kids to "act like they know what they are talking about" even if they don't during the presentation.
Great- just what our kids need to be told, style over substance.... 

1 comment:

Laurie said...

I always did better working solo because of my work ethic. I think it's good Ashley learned this lesson early on. Unfortunately there are MANY projects in college that require group work, even in graduate school, at least in my experience. That can be frustrating. I guess it's good experience for the working world :-)