Students are so different, and excel in very different areas. One thing I enjoy immensely is designing new and different projects that are not the “same old same old”, because it allows students who don’t traditionally do well, to shine. One of these projects that I created was a news show that students had to script and perform based on research about the different regions of Africa. The news show was divided into four sections:
- Local news
- Investigative Reporting (business, health, or entertainment)
Each group had four students, so this project defined the roles of each group member, while allowing them the choice of who reported on what. For this project, I created documents in Google Drive where students would write their scripts, and cite all sources used. By being the owner of a document, I could easily set and control the permissions, and have access to the revision history, which means I could do a better job of evaluating each student’s work by tracking exactly what each one had contributed to the script. The presentation I graded in class, and finally, each student co-evaluated their team members. This way I could get a very full picture of what each student did (or didn’t) do to help forward the goals of the group. I think it’s very important that when giving group projects, at least part of the grade is individual. If a student’s own grade is not at stake, often they will slack off and let others do the work for them.
The year we did this, the World Cup was being played, so many of the boys in the class wanted to do the sports reporting, and asked if they could include World Cup information even though the games were being played in Brazil. I said yes, as long as one or more countries from your region of Africa were participating. Needless to say, not all could include that in their report. This same year was that of the Ebola outbreak, so many students reported on that as well. Beyond learning basic weather patterns and climates, many students were made aware of current difficulties facing these countries, as well as relatively unknown celebrities of African origin.
Following the presentations, they each completed a reflection about their work during the project. One of the questions was, How would you describe this project? Here are their answers, represented as a word cloud:
Another of the questions was: what is something you accomplished during this project that you are proud of? Here were some of their answers…
”I accomplished many things during the project that I’m proud of like learning how to manage the time, organize with the team members, learn to work faster, set weekly goals … I’m mostly proud of the way I managed time because usually I take a lot to do projects and on this one I was able to finish it faster so I’m proud of how I used my time on this project.”
”I learned in this project about amazing stuff that I did not have any idea they existed. I thank you Amanda for the idea of the projects you have because they are really creative. I also learned about sports in East Africa that (sports are part of my life) are very developed and they take the proud of their people to the highest.”
”I wasn’t so nervous on [sic] talking publicly”
”That we learn about a continent that we think that doesn’t have great industry and monuments but [actually it has] a lot or great people and places that are beautiful.”
”I am very proud of my weekly goals, not only because I was able to organized all of them into the given weeks, but also because each week, I was able to complete them, and whenever I did not finished the goal of one week, I will do double on the next but finish both and tried not to get too behind and to follow schedule.”
Note: During this project, each group was required to create specific, weekly goals for each person in the group. And each week I would check to see that they were meeting these goals. As 35% of their grade, they also used this Google Form to co-evaluate each other.
This project was a lot of fun to plan and execute, and to watch the student’s final production. If you would like to download the project instructions, rubrics, and materials, you can find it here on TeachersPayTeachers. (Although we did this during our Africa unit, this could easily be adapted to any unit of Geography. Materials on TPT are non-country/continent specific.)