On Wednesday and Friday of this past week (we rotated out on Thursday), we discussed the survey results (available here). It was a pretty interesting discussion, and one in which students were eager to participate. I’ll summarize, in no particular order, some of the things that came up below.

  • Overall, a very positive response to the project. Based on the survey results, there is clearly one outlier who did not like the project. I did announce to the class that I would love to hear from that outlier (not in class but rather outside of class) and invited him/her to come see me. I doubt it will happen but I would be interested to hear (hopefully they will identify themselves in the open responses).
  • We spent most of the first day, when we took the survey, discussing the content vs. skills tension, i.e. the extent to which they ‘missed’ or felt like they missed out on the content of a traditional coach.
    • They said for the most part no, but also attributed that, to some extent, to it being an English course, i.e. they said they would be more concerned about missing out on content in a science or math course.
    • They also seemed very nervous about an entire course (much less an entire school) being project-based in this way (not surprising).
    • They did not view (pure) content as accessible via technology, i.e. they felt that certain things were not, or should not be, Google-able. Or at least that what they would find wouldn’t, or shouldn’t, take the place of a teacher.
  • They felt my role was for the most part appropriate, that my ‘staying out of their way’ (their words) was a good thing. The one area they said they perhaps would have like more intervention was in the writing.
  • By far the longest, and most engaged, discussion was about work load.
    • For the most part, the class agreed that, while the actors did do more work, that was endemic to the role rather than any sense of resentment or bitterness to those who did (or were perceived to do) less. It was also acknowledged, again without rancor, that the tech crew did less work (or at least was perceived to do less work). I actually think that the tech crew did more work than the writers / actors think they did, but I wasn’t going to try to convince them of that.
    • On the other hand, there was a lot of discussion about how the process could have provided more opportunities for more equal distribution of work.
      • Much of that discussion centered around the initial division between writers / actors, who worked on the script, and the tech crew / non-writers / actors, who worked on the set.
      • It was suggested that that division not take place initially, and that the whole class be involved in the writing process; only when the script is final should the division take place (if for no other reason than the tech crew needs certain information from the script before they can begin).
      • The notion of too many writers (if the whole class is involved) was acknowledged and addressed in some interesting ways.
      • Perhaps the most interesting suggestion was to divide the class in half and have each half put on a play (this was also suggested to mitigate the division that occurred between comedy and tragedy). Each play would be performed and the audience would choose which was better. This would also lend a bit more weight / importance to the process and, in theory, motivate them to do better work.
  • We also discussed assessment / grading.
    • Students did say that they would have been ok with / appreciated more input from me on the writing and/or a more structured approach to the writing, whether the scenes were edited and/or graded as they drafted them.
    • They also said that, especially from the tech crew side, they noticed the absence of writing in an English course, one of the things I was wondering about.
    • The suggestion above, about half the class each doing their own play and then having the audience vote on which they preferred, could tie in to grades.

That’s all I’m remembering right now. I’ll add anything that I remember but overall an interesting discussion that reflected their investment in and commitment to the project.