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March 13, 2014

Projects Based Learning (2): Execution

In the phase of implementation kids really struggled with the idea that a presentation could be about mistakes. They understood making examples of how things are done 'right', but what they were supposed to do with something that was 'wrong'...

Many made presentations that were Q & A or multiple choice questions, some even copied examples from the book (ah, but they finally read the book on their own :), possibly assuming that since I didn't teach from the book I had not looked at it. It was still more amusing when there more conscious partners announced their partners actions. I just pointed out that they would be toast when it came to creativity guideline :).

I also realized that unlike electronics where you need more block time to build something and get it done time allocated for the project, but planning time away from the computer was more useful than a full block of 1-1/2 hrs as children tended to drift off from topic and concentrate on trying templates and beautification.

Consequently, after the second class I started using half the time of the class for other instruction. They worked for 5 classes (2 full, 3 half) on the project when seemed like they were saturating. I asked if they needed more time, but the kids felt that they were done.

There was one group that spent most of their time away from the computer trying to figure out how to solve algebraic puzzles. They were convinced that once they got it they will be able to write it up within a class (they took 2 half classes). 

The longest presentation was on decimals where they covered examples of multiplication, division, addition subtraction and word problems. They did cover an example of when they thought long division goes wrong. For good measure, they even threw in a touching thanks where they thanked Sam/Pai for teaching them decimals and me for inspiring them.

The good part was that most of the kids were engaged in the activity in some capacity. There were a few kids who were not engaged and a couple of instances when I needed to step in. I realized that I had assumed that since the children picked their groups they would be comfortable with each other and decided to focus on ground rules for working with each other (not calling each other names).

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