Managing Weekly Reflections in 20% projects
I have spent the past month writing letters of recommendation and filling out the Common App. My least favorite question is “What are the first words you think of to describe…… “
As generic as this question is, I can’t help to think about how my students would fill it out for me. “Micro-manager, crazy, energetic” Even though I am proud to be crazy and energetic… I don’t want to be a micromanager. However, in the battle to make kids accountable for their work, I feel like I have to trace their progress. This time consuming process HAD TO STOP this year, as I have 75 Marine Biology students working on 20% projects. I couldn’t designate almost 3 hrs a week to simply grading weekly reflections and checking revision histories, Doc progress, etc. As I explained it to my students, I am the CEO of this company called Marine Biology and I am trying to micro-manage the troops. In real life, the CEO would hire people to do that for them.
Time to get creative. First, let me take you through my initial time saving process and then I will describe that even though I value this process, I made drastic changes last week that changed my workflow for the better.
Review of my 20time outline:
- Student Generated Rubric (link to past blog post that outlines the process)
- Weekly Checkpoints (focus on this post)
- Final Reflection and Bloom’s Rubric (blog post to come in a few weeks)
Original Way of Checking Weekly Reflections
- Each group would make a copy of this sheet (it would be shared as an assignment on Google Classroom.
- One person in the group would become the Captain (whoever made the copy of the Doc would turn it in on Google Classroom.
- Each week, the group sits and fills out the goal section of the Doc
At the end of each week, each group member fills out the bottom of the table, where they reflect on whether or not they met their individual goals, what they are proud of and what they need to work on. Valuable, but very time consuming for me to read each of them and check their Docs for actual evidence of whether or not they met their goals..
DURING CLASS: I would walk around to each group, take notes on a spreadsheet (see below), have “micro-meetings” with each group about their goals and check progress. In theory, I would only have to read the Weekly Reflection Files of students who were absent OR groups that are put on an “improvement plan.”
This process seemed awesome. But here is what I learned:
- Micro-meetings are not long enough because I’m too busy writing down their goals in MY spreadsheet.
- Too many groups need to be on an improvement plan. #senioritis
- I still felt that if they filled out the Weekly Reflections, it was my obligation to read them all. #justwasted3hrs
So…. I need to be creative again………… ROUND TWO
New way of doing weekly checkpoints
- Once proposals are in, create a spreadsheet with the following columns:
- 1st column: List all of the students names, grouped by their partners.
- 2nd column: Write the name of their project.
- 3rd, 4th, 5th, etc columns: Dates for each 20% day in class.
- Have students write their group goals in the cell for the appropriate date. (This is then shared on Google Classroom as an assignment where “everyone can edit the file”)
[here is where you start playing Hallelujah]
- Students spent more time WORKING on their goals, versus trying to fill out the Weekly Reflection File.
- My Micro-meetings became more meaningful and I was able to check progress and actually sit down with many groups.