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10 Minute Tryouts!
When we were in our middle school social studies classrooms, much of what Jason Kathman and I did with students was project-based assessment. Whether it was travel brochures for the 13 colonies, scrapbooks for the Great Depression, or board games for building the transcontinental railroad, our kids were always busy creating, problem-solving, and building. When our district, Jamestown (NY) Public Schools, decided to put devices in the hands of each student, those projects became so much more vibrant and robust, not to mention devoid of dog hair buried in glue. Kids could now use Keynote to create animations, Pages to create professional-looking newspapers, and iMovie to generate advertisements for products we were studying.
As we moved into our current roles as tech integrators, we sought to share our love for project-based learning across the district. In Jamestown, our middle schools got iPads first, followed by the elementary schools. These grade levels were a natural fit for what we had in mind - multi-day tasks with plenty of student choice. Jason and I were really busy working with teachers who saw the potential for iPads in their classes.
However, when students at our high school received their devices, we found the teachers more reluctant to jump on board the PBL train. Gently patting us middle schoolers on the head, they explained to us that a multi-day project just doesn’t fit most courses due to the fact that courses only run a semester in length. One social studies teacher crystallized the urgency in a high school setting by telling me they had about 90 class days to cover 250 years of US history. We are not that good at math, but that sounded like a big hurdle.
It was obvious that we needed to try to find ways for teachers to give students the chance to personalize their learning in a much quicker window of time. We turned to Apple’s 30 Creative Tasks and the inventively-named 30 More Creative Tasks looking for inspiration. We then hit upon the idea of creating small projects that students could complete in ten minutes of class time that would display mastery of the content being covered. We sought out projects that allowed for student personalization and choice along the way to a finished product. It was also important to us that the project ideas could be used at most grade levels and subject areas.
Once we had a few ideas, we created video tutorials on how to complete the product so that the teachers could just share the video links rather than have to teach the steps themselves. We then hit upon the idea to put all of the projects and videos on one website so that teachers looking for some quick inspiration could find a one-stop shop. Here is that website. It is our intention to continue to build on this site over time, creating an ever-expanding library of quick ways to help students create and problem-solve in any class setting.
If anyone in your district is looking to try a few new ideas during a class setting but doesn’t want to take the time to teach the steps to complete the project, give 10 Minute Tryouts a look. And, if you have any ideas that we simply must add, please let us know at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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