Classical Lit Play Project 2018 – Open Response Evals

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Reponse #1

The play project was a success from an engagement standpoint; you all bought in more than I expected you to and, with few exceptions, remained engaged for the duration of the project. Do you feel that that engagement alone makes the project worthwhile? To put it another way, you were engaged. But what did you learn? What did you take away from the project? And is that take away enough to justify doing the project, i.e. is what you learned valuable enough / useful enough to warrant the project?

Yes, I think that we all learned a lot in many different ways and improved our knowledge in different areas: whether that be in scriptwriting, acting, set work, media, or simply teamwork and working with others to produce something great! As a whole, I think this project was worth all the time and work that we put into the production; what each of us took away from the project definitely made it a valuable experience for me.  Personally, I learned a lot about others and how people can be so different— a good different!— when one sees them in a different setting. The play project brought out the best in everybody, and everyone got a chance to participate no matter what their interests. I learned a lot about the great time commitment and work it takes to put on such a presentation — even a production that lasts for 15 minutes. At the beginning of the process, I was unsure of how the project would play (pun-intended) out since our class is made up of smaller groups of very different people; however, as we approached the date of the performance, I saw the pieces fall into their places as we all worked together efficiently and effectively. Being engaged throughout the process and up until the final presentation is critical to the project’s success. The knowledge taken away from the experience was different for each one of us and was valuable.

 

I can’t speak for everyone, but I will readily admit that I was particularly willing to do this because I knew it would be easy for me. I was not drawn to take part out of a desire to learn, but rather a desire not to have to write more long papers or take more tests I’m not prepared for. It worked. I was not stressed about my grade at any point during this project, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t at all bothered. It didn’t take long for me to start being annoyed by how bad this show was shaping up to be. It was fine once I reminded myself that that’s not the point. It’s about doing something other than essays and tests at the end of the year and that’s a very valuable experience. Whatever dumb idea that somehow becomes part of the show of weird uncomfortable thing I had to do, I never had to stay up late worrying about grades for english class. Please keep doing this for the sanity of any future students.

It was nice to try something different instead of writing another paper or participating in another socratic seminar. Even though we did not follow the traditional classroom route, I think the play was important. We gained experience and skills that could actually apply to real life. For example, the play took so much work. I have been a part of many concerts and dance performances, but nothing compares to a production like this. We had to write the script, modernize the plot, design props, shoot videos, and perform in front of Wayland residents. It shocked me how many classes it took to produce an 18 minute production. Another thing I will remember from this project is the collaboration aspect. Although there are some collaborative projects, most school courses do not focus on working with others. Normally it is about being the best by yourself. However, it is hardly like that in the real world. People often have to cooperate with others. This project introduced me to that, and I enjoyed getting to know people I do not normally talk to.

In terms of engagement, I agree with the judgement that we were all more committed to the play than our previous regimen of in-class discussions. Given the relatively short amount of time we had to stage the play, I believe the takeaways in teamwork outweigh any benefit of continuing normal classes. The beginning of the process, with the play presentations, was reminiscent of the Achilles in Media presentations with more of a book report feel to it. Studying a play on our own without class discussion to guide us presented a unique challenge that was unfortunately cut short due to time limitations. Still the process of analyzing a play on our own was certainly a valuable lesson. Other areas we developed through the play fall under team coordination; I think it’s fair to say most of us had little to no experience working in a group this size without significant guidance. Although your delegation of tasks through the survey proved vital to our organization, we were collectively still able to adapt to the limited time we had; we coordinated what we needed to get done, and shut out overly grandiose ideas that weren’t feasible in the time we had. Compared to what we had been doing prior to the play, the process of entangling logistics in addition to understanding and analyzing an ancient play was simply superior. The rewriting of the play required an understanding of the original that we would be hard pressed to find in a normal class environment. In summary, we not only focused on and pieced apart a play, but also had to deal with the logistics of putting on a play on top of the analysis. The play essentially traded, not sacrificed, literary analysis from class for group organization; we still had to work with literature, just not as much. This tradeoff, in my opinion, warrants the project. By Q4, we gone through enough literature that the exchange was reasonable.

During this play project, I was able to learn the story of Oedipus Rex very well, something I don’t think I will forget, and also how to work well with the people in our class. This project wasn’t high stress, and it wasn’t packed with information that we had to memorize like for a test or a project in another class. Rather, it was a project where we were able to go, work in our groups or as a class as a whole, and create a play. I don’t think that’s a bad thing though, rather, I think that’s what made the play such a success. People were able to walk into the classroom knowing that they wouldn’t have to stress out like they did in other classes, which made people more willing to work harder, and put in the effort they probably wouldn’t want to otherwise. This, I think, justifies doing the play. Because we didn’t feel a lot of pressure regarding school work while doing this, we were able to work harder, and learn more. We were able to communicate with each other well, become closer as a class, and learn how to – if you’re shy – talk more, and – if you’re louder – listen to others and encourage them to speak their minds. I think that this project is important to do every year, as not only do you learn about ancient literature, but also about life skills.

The constant engagement made the play project very worthwhile. It kept us interested and helped us to learn about classical literature in a new way. Through the modernization and the rewriting of the classical plot, we were able to understand the mechanisms behind classical writing with modern context. Since we had to remake the play, we had to understand how each idea was used in Oedipus Rex in order to recreate it. After we all read and discussed Oedipus Rex, I think we gained a greater understanding of it than with books we read earlier in the year. This play also sparked a new enthusiasm for classical literature because we could actually apply what we new about it as a team to make something entertaining.

What we took away was more than enough to warrant the project. This project diverges from the conventional english class to help students actively learn. Rather than reading boring books and writing grueling essays, we could actually enjoy exploring literature. With this divergence, we also learn new things that we wouldn’t get out of normal english class. For example, we get experience collaborating with classmates in teams to overcome obstacles. Overall, this project was a very effective use of time because we learned much more than normal and enjoyed doing it.

Doing this project, I think we all learned something more than what a typical english class would learn. The class this year was a perfect mix of skills and personality, which made the play worth doing. To an extent, not all of us ride within the same friend groups, so working with people that I normally would not talk to was a good experience. The project was engaging, and reading/writing our version was something really unique. I think the reason as to why this project fits in so well with the rest of the year is because we hammered so hard during the first three quarters. The first three quarters were full of analyzing plays and poems. To create our own version of a popular tragedy was a lot of fun and was definitely a learning experience. Just working with people that I normally would not work with to create a massive production makes the project worthwhile.

I was certainly engaged in the play from when we started all the way up to the performance. I think I took one “english learning” thing away from the play and that was the fact that there were many small pieces of the play that were scarily similar to modern-day comedic patterns. As a whole, the plot of Oedipus Rex isn’t entirely relatable to modern audiences, but it has traces throughout the play of things that seem very familiar to modern TV or movies. I think this discrepancy between the plot being so far “out there” and the small moments being so relatable was both a challenge and a blessing when trying to convert the play into a modern rendition. It took a lot of thinking to come up with a counterpart plot to the killing of Lance and the love story between Eddy and Jo, but that was part of the learning experience in trying to make something completely unrelatable, relatable. This conversion, however, was made much easier due to the fact that the play is built on dramatic irony and the fact that Eddy just isn’t smart enough to put the pieces of the prophecy together. Dramatic irony is commonly used nowadays for comedic purposes, so it was easy for us to use this technique in order to make our plot more believable. I think that this learning experience in itself is enough to justify doing the play, however, I don’t think that it was emphasized enough to really make an impact on the other students. So while it was an obvious learning theme throughout the play, the actual impact of it wasn’t apparent to everybody. I think that had we done one class either in the middle of the making of the play or closer towards the performance where Mr. D led a discussion about what we were taking away from it, that would have been very valuable in the learning experience because it would have been impactful for each individual as well as something to think about for the duration of the production.

The play project was useful in my opinion because it allowed us as a class to exhibit and witness skills in each other that may not have been associated with people throughout the year. I was surprised at how well we worked together and resolved issues, and the amount of passion that some people brought to the performance. Generally, our class was pretty segregated and quiet throughout the year, so being forced to work with different people for once in an active way was really fun and interesting. We definitely had more fun with each other than the audience did, which was fine with me and ended up making it more fun in my opinion.

I believe that the play project was worthwhile not only because it kept us engaged but also because it gave us a new experience and taught us new skills. Although we did not have to do the play project, I feel like we have already read a bunch of books and wrote a lot essays this year, so doing more of that instead of doing the play probably would not have taught us a much. Doing the play was a new experience for me and it taught me valuable skills that will be useful for the future. I learned how to write a script and how the style of writing is different from writing essays, and how to logistically organize a play and make sure we had all of the right props, costumes, etc. I also think that the play was a valuable experience because it put us in charge of all of the decision making. We chose the play we would perform, how we would adapt it to modern times, what scenes we would have, what the character would say, and basically everything else involved in putting on the play. I think by putting us in charge of the play and not just telling us what play we are doing, what our lines are, it made us more independent and able to think for ourselves. By having to make all of the decisions for ourselves, it helped us to become better leaders, but also better listeners. We learned to listen to other people’s ideas, evaluate their ideas, give them constructive feedback and improve on them. All of these are worthwhile skills and will be useful to have for the future. Instead of doing the play this quarter and we had just continued to do what we had been doing all year, then we would have missed out on the opportunity to experience something new, which is why I believe that the play was a worthwhile project.

 I think to some extent engagement definitely makes the project worthwhile as most of the year there is a lot of work that I’m sure some students feel they are not as engaged in yet do because it is mandatory. Having a project that is interesting and something students want to be involved in brings the class full circle and ends the year on a high note. I think myself, and the rest of the class learned about ancient comedy, teamwork and the amount of work that goes into putting on even a miniscule production such as ours. From a teaching stand point I’m not sure if the amount learned by the students was equivalent to what we might have learned from a more traditional end-of-year curriculum, but as a student I am definitely in favor of the play project. For juniors I think that the entire year has been particularly rigorous and to end this class with something lighter than say, a paper, relieved stress and added a fun twist to an already lovable class. On top of that, I do think that the teamwork aspect of this play is much different than the other type of team building exercises experienced in other classes, and I think that that is super valuable and easily translates to real world situations. In all, my vote is yes, the project is justifiable.

I believe the play project was worth doing. I learned how to work as a team in a different circumstance than I normally would in school. I learned all the different aspects that go into successfully performing a play and it also proved to me how much a group of people can accomplish in a short period of time. Telling a story through acting is very different than most school assignments. This project gave me insight to a new way of expressing a story. At some points it was difficult since this was new to me and many. I felt most comfortable when filming and editing part of the story. I think that is because I had more control over what the final product would look like. I believe that this project is justified because it is pushing many of us to think in a way we have never really had to think. We had to solve problems that we may not have been expecting as this was our first time. We also had to work with a large group of people doing a lot of different things. I feel like I gained skills on how to communicate between groups. This was important since we all had to connect whatever we were working on in the end to make a final product so it was important to keep clear communication between groups. I also learned how different things can be put together to help elaborate on and tell a deeper story. For example, we were able to include film, lights, background photos, audio, narration, costumes, and props for the audience to have a better understanding of the story we were trying to portray. I believe these skills are useful for the future if I were to work with a large group that is separated by smaller tasks. I understand now the importance of keeping a strong link between groups.

            Throughout the process of turning Oedipus Rex into a live production, I was able to engage with all my classmates through planning props and scene changes. I learned more about the teamwork and effort that is needed to create a successful play. For example, utilizing the access we had to the big printer gave us a main focus for humor (WSPN article) and it was all a result of the hard work of the set design team. Being part of the set design crew was fun because I was able to bond and engage with my classmates in a way that I had never before. I think this was because of the low stress environment, and the fun we all had laughing with our classmates. From an academic standpoint, I don’t think I learned a lot from doing the project. This was a big contrast from the in depth analytical learning we did with the Iliad or the NBCL. If you’re just judging based off of what we learned academically, then I don’t think the project was worthwhile. I didn’t learn anything historically about the type of play Oedipus Rex was or why it was written the way it was. But from a class bonding experience, I’d say that project was definitely worth the time. I was excited every day we rehearsed to go to class because I continuously got closer to some of my classmates and enjoyed the creative process of it all.

Response #2

Speaking of the future, should I do this next year? You all were particularly willing to undertake this project. I’d like to take credit for that but am realistic enough to know that my role in your engagement was likely relatively minor. We had a good combination of skills, personalities, and interests and that produced a good process and product. But is that good process and product a requirement for undertaking this? Is the project still valuable if a subsequent class does not buy in as much / does not produce as good (or a good at all) final product? Should that impact my decision to do the project again or not?

I do believe that it is a good experience on top of not being normal school work. People who don’t normally partake in shows can try new things. There’s something for everyone to do, like Jeremy saying words, Gage saying a lot of words, and Christian still being absolutely helpful in every way. Despite all this, work was done and they play was able to be performed. I think that at the end of a school year, a project that’s fun and graded softly is very valuable. I also think that in situations like these, people will be driven to make a good show out of fear of shame (especially if it’s during a time when people will actually show up to see it). That fear of shame will teach people how to pretend they know what they’re doing better than any bad powerpoint in history class. The goal should be a show that, however many people show up, some people in the demographic we decided on would enjoy seeing. Whether or not we have a spectacular product, effort was put into this project and it was less stressful than it could have been and I think that’s a good way to end a year. Ask anyone writing an end of year essay, they’ll buy into any alternative.

I think you should do the play next year. The play offers an engaging alternative to traditional tests, papers, and presentations. More importantly, it forces everyone to unite as a team. Collaboration is the key aspect here. Even if the final product is not perfect, at least everyone learned something along the way. Simply creating a show from scratch is an accomplishment. However, if the class is initially not excited, you should not force them to do it. If no one is willing to do anything, a couple of people may end up doing all the work. This may be a good thing because it is easy to distinguish the star students. However, class will be painful, and the play will be a mess.

Continuing from my previous response, I would say the play presentations are essential regardless of the class’s opinion on actually performing a play. That is, the initial part of the process was a good learning experience. Independently researching a play is a more in depth version of the Achilles in Media presentation as you must both analyze the play and potentially draw connections to its presentability in a modern context. As for the rest of the process, I am under the opinion that unless you judge the group too unruly to handle the responsibilities, it is still valuable. By Q4, the class should have had enough experience going over texts in class to undertake the play and get away from the, by then, seemingly endless stream of texts thrown their way. Three quarters of analyzing texts in a traditional environment is enough, a play project is a perfect way to apply these skills with the added twist of producing a play. One caveat I would keep in mind is that if you feel the skills practiced through the first three quarters are still not at the point where they play is feasible, continuing practice with those skills with another unit would definitely be appropriate. If class fails to produce a good final product, it is on them. You provided excellent support with your work delegation and I feel would have intervened if you saw we were reaching beyond our capabilities or time we had. As long as the goals are kept realistic, pushing a honors class out of its comfort zone is not unreasonable. If a final product appears to not be ideal, I would suggest analyzing what went wrong and comparing it to what went right in successful projects; Projects have succeeded: if one fails, use it as a learning experience for the next class rather than discontinuing the project.

I think that this project should be something that you do every year, even if you have a quieter/ less willing class. With all the other tests and projects going on in every other class, it was really nice to be able to come into English knowing that we were doing something that wouldn’t require as much brain power, while still learning. Our class in particular was good in the way that we were very willing to get engaged and do things that not everyone would want to do, like act and write and direct, so it did make the process easier, but I still think that with another class, you could still do this project and make it successful, as I think it’s important for everyone to have a break from the stress of finals. This project was fun, but still a project where we put in our work, and learned in the process. If, however, you think your class is too quiet, maybe you could continue with this project, but take a more active role. Though we didn’t need it quite as much, another class could potentially benefit if you stepped in and told them what to do, or made suggestions and helped them brainstorm ideas. Or, if you needed to, you could create an outline of what needed to be done with the project with every week. Like what you did in the beginning by having everyone read a piece of literature and present it, so that everyone in the class can be organize and partake in the project in their own way, while still being directed and helped by you.

Although this would be surprising, if a class was somewhat unwilling to do this project, it could affect what they get out of it. As I explained earlier, enjoyment of the work adds a significant new aspect of learning, which you might not get out of forced work. Since you were minimally involved in the process, a class that didn’t want to do it might put very little effort in it, resulting in a bad final product. If this were the case, this class would likely learn very little from this project so might not be valuable.

Due to the personalized nature of this project, I think most classes would be fairly engaged. Every student can pick whichever area best suits them, so they won’t be forced to do work they don’t want to do. Also, after writing essays for years in conventional English class, many students would likely be dying for a break, which this project offers them. This, along with the teamwork aspect of it, makes me think that most classes would buy in to this project. With this in mind, if a class is still unwilling to do the project, it might not be as valuable as conventional English class, and it should therefore impact your decision.

The short answer is yes, having a class that is less likely to buy in to the play should impact your decision to do it. I agree with you in the regard that our class (or the majority of our class) was exceedingly enthusiastic to do and work on the play, and I think that the enthusiasm that we had was half of the battle in making such a good play. There were days in the process of making the play when many kids were tired or just didn’t feel like working that hard. These days made it very hard to accomplish things and mostly ended up being a waste of time. The benefits of having normal class time are that even when kids aren’t in a learning mood, they still have to get work done and are forced to think. With the loose learning structure of the play, it is easy for some kids to slack off and others to take on the brunt of the load. This happened even in our class where nearly everyone was enthusiastic to do the play, so I imagine that if there is a less-enthusiastic class that doesn’t care to work hard on it and is only thinking of the play as a way to get out of work, then I think it doesn’t make sense. There are alternatives, however, to the play if a more low-key class comes around. I think that the play can easily be structured so that the teacher has a more hands-on role and therefore can make the students work harder in order to come up with a more structured final product. This strategy takes away the freedom and creativity from the students, and I think that is a bad thing because each of those two things are big learning pieces of the project. If you feel the need to change the structure of the project for the kids to actually learn something then it isn’t worth doing.

I think that to an extent the success of the project does depend with the specific class group, but the nature of the class attracts a group of people that are generally similar to our demographic. I don’t know that I would have expected this project to be a success, especially in the way that it was, so I think it is worth exploring in future years. Even if the production value isn’t super high, it does force a bunch of honors juniors you wish would get in trouble to step out of their comfort zones and possibly discover similarities between them and new skills. I think that it is always valuable to challenge students to interact with the material they have been learning all year in a drastically different way.

I think that whether or not you should do the play project next year should partly depend on if the class wants to do the play. I think that our play was successful mainly because the majority of our class was very motivated and interested in doing the play, so we put a lot of effort into the play to make it good. From the beginning almost all of us wanted to see the play succeed and actually be entertaining to watch. The day we decided whether or not we would do the play or continue what we had been doing for the rest of the year, I do not think that I heard a single person openly say that they did not want to do the play, and that attitude continued throughout the entirety of the project. I think that most of us were interested and had fun putting on the play which made our final result successful. The main reason we succeeded was because we wanted to succeed. We saw this sort of as “our” play, and wanted to make it as best as could be. So I think that if another subsequent class is not interested in doing the play project and is not motivated to perform it, then you should not make them do it. I think that they will not get as much out of it and will not learn as much if they are not engaged in the process and that they would probably be best served by continuing with what we do for the first three quarters of the year. However in another scenario if a class is interested and motivated like we were, but the final result of the play was not as good, I still think that doing the play would still be worthwhile. In my opinion, it’s not really the final presentation of the play that matters but the process itself. Learning how to put on the play is more important in my mind. And if the final play is not that good, then they can learn from their mistakes for the next time.

I think for each year, as it was this year, the class should be given the option to do the play project or continue on with traditional curriculum. I do agree that this year we had a good mix of personalities and skills that proved crucial to the success of the play, so that being said if a class did not have that I don’t think the play is worth while. The main draw to the play was that it was fun, especially for a class such as ours that had good chemistry. If the students don’t have any desire to put it on, or if none of the students want to act, then I think the play would be something the students would dread. Also seeing how most of the play production is student driven I think it would be hard to keep a class motivated that didn’t want to put on the play. Now that begs the question, what is the cut off? Obviously not everyone is going to agree on everything, but I think if you can supply at least the 3 or 4 main actors and a few people that are interested in set design etc, then jobs for the rest of the class fall pretty easily into place. I also think that if enough of the class is interested their momentum can drag the others in, creating a fun project for all. Personally, I hate plays and acting but with all the enthusiasm from the actors and people who are into that kind of stuff, I actually enjoyed myself and found the project entertaining.

If the whole class isn’t as interested it will be hard for all of the small individual groups (i.e. actors, tech, props, writing)  to be successful. If that is the case then it could lead to the final product falling apart if not all parts are successful. I do believe that a good process and product are important in creating a good play in the end, but I do still think that students can learn a lot from the process if the play isn’t as successful. With the exception that the students who don’t actively participate probably won’t get anything out of doing the project. I think for the future you should continue to have the play project as an option. The class can feel it out and decide based on their personalities and skills as a group. If it seems pretty split, then it may not be the best option. This project only worked if students were excited to work on it. If we were not into doing the play it would not have been as successful since we wouldn’t have cared how it turned out. We also wouldn’t have been as interested in adding different aspects to make the play come out as well as it did (i.e. video, audio, set). If you have half the class super into it and the other half not it will only make the other half of the class extremely frustrated that the other half isn’t completing its job. The whole class must work together for this project to be a success and for all students to get something out of it.

            After the experience that I had with the project, I think that you should allow future classes to do this the play. I think the most important part to a successful team was the surveys you gave for roles/jobs. It’s important not to force students to act/set design if they don’t want to. Being able to participate in the production in a way that students feel more comfortable is what made the play fun and engaging. This year, when the class was voting on whether we should do the play or not, it was obvious that those who were hesitant to say yes were those who were most uncomfortable with acting. Even if the majority of the class doesn’t want to participate, finding a way for them to engage in the way they want to can still result in a really great play (this year as an example). With a traditional class like ours, throughout the year we all do a lot of individual work, so being able to plan out scenes and sets with my classmates who I usually never talk to, was fun and exciting. In every class, you’ll have a mix of personalities and skill levels which is what will make the play project worthwhile. The final product doesn’t have to be an extraordinary production, as long as the students produce a cohesive play and put effort and time into it, it’s a good way to end the year.

 

Yes, you should definitely do this project next year! Both having a good process and a good product are important for this type of project. The process is more important than the actual product; even if a group’s final product is not up to par with our final product (it would be very difficult to be on par with the glorious Oedi Rex), the success of the project can be measured better by the quality of the process. It can be difficult to predict how good the process or product will be with a specific group of people, so it is better to do the project since one never knows for sure how it will turn out. Since every class is different, one class not producing a good product and product should not determine whether the project is done for subsequent classes.

This project should be assigned whether or not a class wants to do it because in the end the experience and the adventure is worth it! When we were first introduced to the play project, most of us were excited of this new approach to studying classical plays. I’ll admit I was skeptical, at first, of how well we would work as a large group due to the great range of interests, friend circles, and personalities in our class, but now, reflecting on the experience, I think it was definitely worth it. Students who may be less enthusiastic about the idea at the beginning, like I had been, will most likely get engaged and excited about the play as it progresses, and their thoughts about the project will ultimately be more positive than negative.

 

Response #3

Let’s talk grading and work load. Describe your role / your work load for the project: do you think that it was an appropriate amount of work? Independent of that, how should you / could you be graded? Check-ins along the way, either in writing or one-on-one with me? How should the performance / final product factor in? Should the audience factor in, i.e. whether they are given some sort of rubric, whether they can ask you questions at the end of the performance, etc.? Do you think people in this year’s class don’t deserve an A? If yes, for qualitiative (i.e. the quality of the work they did)? or quantitative (i.e. the amount of work they did) reasons?

For the play project, I had a few different roles: I was an extra; I was a part of the rewriting crew and the research and interpretation crew; I was part of the set design, and costume and prop collection groups; and I helped out with the overall organization and prep in between scenes. Yes, it was an appropriate amount of work: much of it could be completed in class through collaboration with others, and the work was more relaxed but enough to keep everyone engaged and immersed in the experience.

We should be graded by the amount of work and effort we put into the production, our engagement throughout the process, our participation in class, and our enthusiasm and attitude for the process. Check-ins could be done in writing or as discussions in (small?) groups to ensure everyone is on the same page. The final product is less important than the process but should still factor into our grades — similar to the structure of the rubric for the research paper: the research and the process should be given more weight than the final product but the final product should still play a part in the overall grade. Everyone in our class deserves an A because everyone put in the time and work required and showed enthusiasm for the work!

There shouldn’t be a rubric for the audience because that may take away from their enjoyment of the performance; however, interaction between the audience and students through a question-answer session afterwards sounds like a great idea! This would be a good way to help the audience fully understand our thinking throughout the process.

 

I like to think that I did a lot for this project. I was a main actor, and I was the only person with a costume besides Nick, whose costume I made. I took part in all the group discussions. I edited some lines and helped with staging. I’m not sure of a perfect system, but maybe there could be a system of positive and negative help. There could be a basic score and then the score could go up for contributions and down for disruptions. You can figure out how many points to start with and how much it would go up or down for different actions. This also brings up questions of how much you’ll keep track of what we do. Will you be keeping track during all discussions? Will you have access to all google docs so you can see who’s writing? You might have to have different systems for people writing than for actors or set people. This is all getting too complicated.

My role for the film was set design and props and I also helped with marketing for the play. Mainly my jobs were to understand what was going on in the scene written by the other group, and then figure out what sort of props were needed to complete the scene. There was little to no nightly work and I honestly think I could’ve been given more work. I understand that if you’re not in the writing and acting group you have to wait and go off of what they give you, but I think we could have had more cooperative work between groups. Grade wise, I think it’s hard to give people as accurate a grade as you might a paper or a written project, but I think if the student was genuinely into the play and showed good effort that that should merit a good grade. Obviously I think the actors and the writers did more work, but it seems hard to give them a better grade as sometimes that was just how the work distribution fell with the nature of our level of production. I also I don’t think other students should be penalized for not wanting to act as that’s not always everybody’s thing and it shouldn’t be forced upon students. In all, I haven’t really suggested a good way of grading, but seeing as this play was pretty low stakes I feel like it’s not absurdly ridiculous to give everybody good grades (unless there was someone who really really did not do anything). Also, I think if the audience was to grade it it might take away form their enjoyment of watching the play, especially students. So maybe there could be select teachers that are chosen to watch the play and give it a light-hearted rating. Again I think the laid back vibe of this play is what gets kids so excited and produces a comedic performance, therefore I would keep the audience critique to a minimal.

My role in this project was mainly behind the scenes. I created props for the set and acted as an extra in the party scene. I thought of the entering Wayland/Weston sign, Oh, Baby! Fitness sign, and Jocasta teacher ID. I worked closely with Lindsay to create these props using Google Drawings. We also worked together to design the fake WSPN article that featured Uma’s photoshopped image. I think I did an appropriate amount of work for a set designer. I felt like Lindsay and I ended up designing most of the signs while most people in the set design crew sat there doing nothing. It was a little frustrating, especially when we couldn’t do anything because the script wasn’t done. I feel like some people do not deserve an A because they didn’t do anything. I think the best way to grade the project is through reflections. However, it is only so effective because people can lie. To prevent this from happening, another idea is to have a job checklist/survey. Have everyone fill out the names of the people who they think did that job. Forcing everyone to do this survey will show who is actually doing work. You could even have different surveys for the acting/writing and technical groups. Perhaps consider sending out the survey sometime during the project and then the same survey after the play.

I believe the project was an appropriate amount of work for an honors class. We were told before taking on the project that out of class work would be minimal if we were productive in class, so there was obviously less work than what we were used to. However, the quality and type of work compensated for the relative lack of homework. As for my role specifically, I had a greater sway at the beginning as we chose my play – I had a more developed viewpoint of the nuances of the play and therefore had a more active role towards the start of the process. Once work had been delegated by you, our efficiency went up considerably and we comfortably executed the plans we made for the time we had. As for grading, I feel having a quick survey either at the end of every play project dedicated class or even for homework would be beneficial. It would be short and simply ask the student what they did that day. This would serve the dual purpose of keeping everyone on track as well as potential evaluations. A one-on-one towards the end or after the process would also serve as an effective evaluation tool, provided there was class time to spare. The performance will probably be demonstrative of the class’s collective effort and should be taken into account unless they were extraordinary lacking in some of the skill sets we were lucky to have. Audience questions would certainly be a good way of gauging the class’s understanding of the play and whether or not their analysis skills were honed. I think everyone in the class deserves an A as although we could have likely achieved the same outcome with a few less people, everyone worked to minimize out of class time and achieve the success we had.

My role in this play was helping with set design. With the others, we made the posters (both the article and the yoga poster) the signs, got the props, and helped backstage during the play to set things up. I think that it was a good amount of work. If I was alone, it would have been too much, but with a small group I think it ended up working really well. For a project like this, I think grading should be both individual – based on the work one person did and how much work they could do with their given role – and also based upon the play as a whole – how the performance went, whether or not the play was finished, and how the class went about presenting the play, etc. For the individual grading, I think a few check-ins along the way would work. If you sent out one every couple of weeks to fill out, the class could describe briefly what they did that day, and how it helped the play process in a whole. For the audience, I don’t think it would be a good idea for them to weigh in on the grading process. I don’t think it’s realistic to assume that the audience will understand everything that happens in the play, only because it’s hard for a ten minute performance to explain an entire story that someone isn’t already familiar with. That being said, some of the more subtle jokes and references might go unnoticed, and the audience might give a grade that doesn’t capture what the play really deserves. However, I do think that they should ask questions at the end if they need to. If there’s a rubric, I think that it should be based on the whole play and how the presentation went overall, rather than individual grades because everyone’s role was very different, so it would be hard – other than making a rubric for each role every year – to have one set of criteria to grade on everyone. I don’t think anyone in this class doesn’t deserve an A, I think we all worked hard to make a good play. Finally, I think the grading should be qualitative, just because some roles might be doing more and being broader, while others doing less with more detail, which should be taken into account.

In this play project, I was assigned to be a secondary actor. At first, after the presentations, we decided which play to do based on the functionality of each option. We picked Oedipus Rex, read it, and then were responsible for coming up with ideas for its play. Then, we assembled into our groups, I was with the actors. I contributed to discussion by suggesting ideas for the modernization of the play, like to have Laius get run over by Eddy rather than killed in combat by him. Then, after completing the ideation phase, we assigned roles to each actor and began the scripting process. I was Laius, Oedipus’ biological father. I who played a major role in the beginning, but then I  was killed by Oedipus. Once our group finished the script, we started to rehearse. Since my character died early on in the play, I helped move props on and off during the rest of the play. I also completed the Program for the audience to read as a preview to the play. The workload kept me occupied and engaged during class time, but I had minimal out of class work.

I think that this was an appropriate amount of work. Since there was barely any homework and we completed it during class time, we enjoyed working on this project. This general happiness improves the final product because it means we put heart into it rather than being forced to do homework. To grade this project, doing check-ins would be effective. This would allow each student to sum up their work every once in a while, to give you a general idea of what grade they deserve. The overall result should factor in because that shows the quality and quantity of work the class put in collectively. I think you should evaluate the overall final performance, which should partly factor into every student’s grade. Also, the audience could factor in to this evaluation through a short survey, so that you can get multiple perspectives on the performance. I think that most people in this year’s class deserve an A. This is because the project turned out very well overall which shows the effectiveness of our work. The only reason why some people might not deserve an A was if they played a minimal role in the project, forcing others to pick up their slack to create the best play possible.

The amount of work for this project was perfect. I think with a little more time (maybe two weeks more?) the work would have been spreaded out a bit more equally. Because of my show experience, I did a little bit more than everybody else did, but that was more because there wasn’t enough time to teach others how to go about producing this show. I had to write the entire play by myself, I programmed lights, filmed, and I organized the props. The grading for the show should be based on effort since not many people who take the class have theater background. I did see a tiny lack of effort from maybe one or two people, but for the most part everyone was just really excited to be working on such a comedic show. The chemistry between the class also worked in our favor, so everyone worked well together.

I would say that I did a lot of work on the play. I did most of the directing, some of the writing, a lot of the organization and was the lead actor. Despite my many roles making it seem like I did a lot of work, I would say that it was an appropriate amount of work over the stretch of fourth quarter. I don’t think that there’s really any way to have a true objective grading system for the play, just because everyone has a different part to play and different things to do. I think one way to begin thinking about how to grade it is the final performance. If the final performance is underwhelming and doesn’t seem like much effort went into it, people might deserve a grade that’s on average lower than that of a great play. This is difficult also because that entire crumby play might be the result of one person working really hard, and he doesn’t deserve to get a bad grade because the rest of the class didn’t chip in. I think the best way to do the grading is to just ask a couple of questions of people throughout the process to see what they are personally doing and are in charge of accomplishing. It’s difficult because the grading is subjective and people can easily get upset about a grade they get based on the teacher’s opinion. I don’t think the audience should have a rubric, just because the audience is biased and the answers they get to questions won’t correctly represent the process as a whole in the making of the play. I do think that people in this year’s class don’t deserve an A. It sounds selfish, but I’m a little frustrated with the fact that I put a lot of work into the play and that just a couple people did most of the work and yet everyone might still get the same grade. Many people didn’t take the process seriously and really wanted to use the play as a slack-off time, and once I asked them to do something they would complain or half-heartedly do it or do something else during our rehearsal time. I think that many kids wasted time not doing anything productive to the play during the rehearsals and I think that had people been more productive during those times then the play could have been better. From this standpoint, I would like the teacher to just pay close attention to how people are using their time during the preparation and grade based on that. As for workload, I feel like I was one of only a couple in the class who did most of the work on the play. Because of this I think that many kids didn’t end up doing very much through the whole process. I think it would definitely have been possible for some of my work to have been delegated to others who weren’t doing as much.

It was difficult at times to figure out exactly how to contribute, especially when certain people had more experience and comfort levels with a lot of the workload. I think that part of what we should be graded on was our ability to resolve issues independantly and take initiative, because most of the work we did was making decisions as a class and comunicating between groups to make sure we were on the same page. I think that I took on a moderate amount of responsibility in the play, and generally was vocal when I thought that there was something that needed to be changed/resolved. I think most of the leadership roles I took were during the initial round table meetings when we figured out the logistics of the play. Check ins along the way might be helpful, especially in determining as a class what was accomplished and what still needs to get done, but we managed to figure it out pretty well independantly. I don’t think that it would be very valuable to grade heavily based on the final performance and audience response because there was nearly no one in the audience and we were all relatively unexperienced in putting on a play. With that said I think that it did turn out much better than I was expecting because of all the different types of media we used. In general the people in this class worked hard on pushing themselves out of their comfort zones, being vocal about issues, and delegating tasks. Even if some of the hardest work was just convincing yourself to take a risk and perform.

My role for the project was both acting and set work. At the beginning of the project, I worked mainly on the set design, but later into the project I started working with the acting group on the script and planning the different scenes when I was cast as Paul. I think that it was an appropriate amount of work because I had something to do almost all of the time. There was pretty much always something that needed to be done, so all you had to do was volunteer to do something if you had nothing to do at the time. I think that there were definitely opportunities for people to sort of step back and let others do the work, but for the most part everyone chipped in to help. Even though I would say that some people did more work than others, I still think that everyone deserves an A because everyone helped out at some point in some way. In the future, if you wanted to make the grading of the play project more accurate (although I think you should keep giving everyone A’s :), I think that the best way to do it would be to have brief check ins during the process of the play, maybe once a week, and they could be in person or in writing. Basically just have people say what they have been working on and how they have contributed to the project, and I think that it should be something pretty casual and short. I do not really like the idea about the final performance or the audience factoring into the grade because I feel like then your grade depends on factors out of your control, like the effort level of your classmates, and that would not really be fair. Even though this is a group project and there is an argument that can be made that the final project is all that matters, since it is a whole class project it is more difficult for one or two people to carry the project than it is in smaller groups. What I am trying to say is that in small groups one person can work really hard and you will end up with a good result, but with a group project one person cannot make as much of an impact, which is why I think a grade should be based off of individual contributions to the whole.

My role for the project consisted of writing the script, and  overseeing technical aspects of the play. I helped film as well as edited the videos together that we used during the play. I also put together the slideshow which acted as a backdrop to set the scenes throughout the play. This made it easy to organize the other aspects of the play that we wanted to include such as any audio and film. I think check-ins on the way would have been a good way to be graded. We could summarize what we have completed, what we are currently working on and/or what else we need to do. This way ti was clear how much work each student was doing and whether or not they were doing their part. If something does not get completed it will be clear whose responsibility it was and who did not follow through. I think the performance can factor in on whether or not it was successful. For a play to be successful each group needs to complete their part. If one of these parts aren;t completed it will be clear in the final product and you wouldn’t know who did not do their part. I think it would be interesting if the audience rated different aspects of the play and that could help decide the grade for those involved in those groups. Such as actors knowing lines, props/costumes, and lights/audio. I do think that some people may have done more work than others but it is hard to pick those people out and give those who had more work the better grade. Every student seemed to get their job done. Some jobs just included more work than others.

My role during the play project consisted as a whole of set design. This meant that I worked on creating tangible sign, posters, and party scenes that the actors used to their advantage. I believe that this was an appropriate amount of work for me because I enjoyed the crafts part of it while also having some at home work to do. In terms of grading, I think that the set design and actors/writers should be graded on a different scale. The set design team did a lot of hands on work during rehearsals but also didn’t have as much strenuous memorization and writing to do as the actors and actresses did. The set design should be graded based off of how alert they were during scene changes, and how much they added to the creativity and production of the props. As for the acting crew, their engagement to taking the play seriously and also being engaged during rehearsals should be taken into consideration.  I think online check-ins after each work class is a good idea in order to see the progress as a whole and individual progress. This can show if there is an imbalance of work that is taking place either in the set design or acting crew. The performance as a whole could be a bottom line grade and then each personal grade could be added on to that. Most often though, the work that certain individuals did for the play wasn’t explicitly shown in the final production. For example, the time and effort spend on all the posters and signs weren’t extremely highlighted during the play. All in all, everyone in the class had their own part that added a lot of personality and humor the the play and I don’t think anyone deserved less than an A seeming how little time for preparation and writing we had this year.

Response #4

Assess the project. What do you think worked well? What do you think needed improvement or tweaking? This response shouldn’t be a list but rather focus in on one, two, at most three things, and develop your thoughts about them.

I think the teamwork aspect of the project worked well. By spitting into small groups, we effectively divided up the work and ensured that each group could focus their attention on a specific part of the presentation. The two main groups were acting (and script rewriting) and the set/props (also the group responsible for the technological and organizational aspects of the performance). In these groups, we successfully completed different tasks for the project more quickley because we were working at the same time. Often in such projects, it can get to be that one group fins itself waiting for the other group to finish a task before they begin their task; instead, both groups worked on separate tasks and we slowly brought the pieces together to produce something great!

One part of our process that could have been better was the planning part. The way in which we managed the time we had could definitely be tweaked: we spent an enormous time planning and discussing the many different ideas for each scene. Ultimately, we were able to deliver — but this was only because we worked extra hard and were much more focused during rehearsals just a week before the performance. Though final product was good, we could’ve spent less time planning and more time jumping into the process. The actually creation of set pieces, the finding of props, and the testing out of (and the revisions of) lines were more effective than simply having a discussion and trying to plan the play without having a concrete image in our minds of what the play would look like on stage.

 

It is probably easier to give everyone a decently high grade. There can be some pluses and minuses for major helps or hindrances, but a lot of work in these projects happens quietly, behind the scenes one might say. Conferences might work at the end of the process so you can tell what each person has contributed to the show. That can be graded based on how well the contribution achieves what it’s supposed to. For example, the shirt I made for Nick was by no means perfect, but it achieved all that it was supposed to do. I think that the audience would not be particularly specific in their grading if it was left to them. It would end up like the agents of change project last year where most people fill it out with full marks regardless of the presentation.

What I think worked really well was that we as students got to develop this play all on our own. Being able to direct the play in any direction without restrictions from you allowed for us to take the play and make it our own. I think the flash back scene we filmed was an example of this which as you said, had never been done before. The one thing is, as stated in a previous response, your flexibility coupled with the willingness of our class was what made the project so great, so I’m not sure if this is a one time thing, or every year you would yield the same results. I also think having organized the play from the beginning all on our own made the end result that much more rewarding to the class. Some things I would improve would be the amount of time we had to work on the play and actually rehearse, and also the marketing to other classes (Mr. D’s fault). I understand some years that just how the quarter happens and that there’s not always more time available, but I do think that time would have elevated our play from sub par to mediocre. As for the audience I think marketing to the sophomore classes was a good idea, but that it should be an invitation to all classes to come watch. I definitely think that doing the play a week earlier would have gathered a larger audience. Lastly, I think that the two groups could have worked more together in the early writing stages of the play.

I think the project was fun, but there were definitely some things that could be improved. In general, I think the entire project needs to have more structure. I think there should be class deadlines. For example, the class should finish the script, assign roles, and finish the set by a certain date. It would keep the class more motivated. There can also be more reflections. Perhaps every week, students should fill out a reflection and describe how they contributed to the project. If there are not many guidelines, a couple people end up carrying the entire class. This defeats the whole purpose of the project which is intended to spur collaboration. Although there was some unspoken leadership, I think there should have been designated leaders. A leadership position offers students the opportunity to demonstrate or try out a new role. It would make things easier if there was a conflict because everyone could always defer to the leader. Moreover, the jobs assigned were good, but no one ended up following them. For example, even though I signed up to be a part of the tech team, I ended up on set design because all the non-script people were lumped together. I did not have the opportunity to shoot a video, record the play, dim the lights, or choose the music. It was unfortunate because I was looking forward to learning how to properly use the equipment.

If you couldn’t tell from my previous responses, I really liked the play presentations. Call me biased since we ran with my play, but it was definitely a solid part of the process that I feel should be developed further if time allows. I’ll refrain from repeating what made it appealing to me. The play presentations speak to a broader topic of your guidance throughout the project. Although we had great discretion in our choices, you were always available for an opinion or assessment of feasibility. Your guidance in selecting a play and eventually the delegation of labor proved invaluable in keeping us focused and making the most out of the time we had. We had the perfect combination of independence and guidance to achieve the result we had, and I believe correctly balancing the amount of guidance based on circumstances is essential to the project as a whole. The leadership dynamic in the group is also something to look into as working well. The level of cooperation and communication both in class and out (out of class -> facebook group) contributed to feeling of a shared goal rather than following a single person’s vision. Everyone was welcome to give their opinion or add on to a train of thought; some people didn’t but the opportunity was there. Perhaps this is down to the synergy or size of the group – maybe we weren’t at the critical size where the more open dynamic begins to break down. Nonetheless, the feeling that we were all in it together definitely pushed us to perfect what we had in the final few crunch days.

I think the thing that worked best in this play project was the way everyone worked with one another. Everyone was really good about listening to each other, and taking other people’s thoughts and ideas into consideration. This goes in a couple different ways. With brainstorming the play, I felt that everyone was heard if they wanted to speak up, and the environment in which we worked (in a circle sitting in our chairs) was relaxed. If someone spoke up, everyone else listened, and nobody was ever rude about anything, regardless of whether or not they agreed. Also, every was good about the roles in the play project. Nobody was forced into doing something they didn’t want to do, like acting or narrating. People were able to step up and take the roles themselves even if they weren’t entirely comfortable with the idea, but at the same time, nobody pressured anybody to do anything they didn’t want to do. In terms of improvement, I think we as a class were rather slow in the beginning of the process, and it was hard to get started. There were many classes in which we didn’t really talk about much, and seemed to go into circles about how this play was going to go. I think that if we had made more of an effort to get the outline done sooner, than we would have had more time to practice and improve our performance. Still, I think the play went really well overall, and with our limited practices we were still able to get the play done, and act it out in front of an audience without anything going wrong.

I think the play was a success overall. Modernizing the play worked very well since the audience could relate to the play in a way that they couldn’t with a normal classical play. The modernization also added comedic aspects to it, and I think we did a great job at coming up with ideas for and scripting the recreation. For example, showing Eddy as a member of the journalism class, rather than a king, gave him reason to investigate this crime. This was successful because it also explained how he became romantically involved with his biological mother, Jo. Additionally, Splitting the class up into areas based on every student’s skill set worked well because it allowed each group to thrive.

One thing I think could be improved somewhat was the setting of the scenes. Although I think we did fairly well with what we had, we could have made a few parts more realistic with props/backgrounds. For example, Matt Cerrato was supposed to be the golf cart guy in the play, but I think very little of the audience understood this since he just pulled up with a chair rather than a “golf cart”. This might of left some audience members confused as to who this “Mr. Staples” was in this scene with vital information on the murder. I think more organization on set design and props could have elevated the play. Overall, despite this small imperfection, I think the play project worked very well.

The final production was a lot better than I thought it would be. When I wrote the show, I could not see it transformed onto stage. The writing process was rushed due to the time constraints and I just was not proud of the work I put in. But as rehearsals began, and the casting process revealed people who were able to fill the rolls, things became a lot better. I honestly believe that we could not have pulled off such an elaborate and hilarious production without the people in the class. The way that everyone pitched their ideas, and the positive feedback that was received from the class enabled the confidence that filled the room on show day. I worked with the writers and directors, so the atmosphere we created when developing ideas was really helpful and positive. The flip side, though, was when the project was introduced. I liked how student-based it was, but I think maybe a little more time with learning the various parts of the show would have been helpful. Maybe having everyone playing with lights one day, having the writers write five minute shorts or monologues, doing an actor’s workshop. I understand that the time constraints made it so that we were on our own, but having a little bit of guidance during the pre-production part would have been helpful. Speaking of the time constraints, I think that was a big factor in the final product. The show itself was hilarious, and I think that if more people saw it, it would have been more satisfying to end with. With more time, we also could have filled in the few plot holes that were in the script. The time limits were just a factor of scheduling within the quarter, but I think having more time would have made the show a lot better.

Most of what we focused on as a class focused on the rewrites and adapting the play for a modern setting, but I think it could’ve been interesting to perform this/a play in an abbreviated version of its original form. This would’ve allowed us to connect it more with the rest of the year’s curriculum and allowed us to go more in depth with the story, morals, characters, and historical context. Altogether though I do think the adaptation was interesting and allowed people with less theater expertise to become more involved. In terms of more obvious tweaks it would’ve been nice to get some more rehearsal time and have had some more active advertisement so we could have more than a dozen audience members.

Well first of all I think that it is pretty obvious that we could have used some more time to work on the play, but that is easily fixed by starting the process a week or two earlier. The extra time would have been helpful because it would have given us more time to rehearse and smooth out a few kinks in the performance. However, other than that, for the most part things went fairly smooth during the process. Especially considering the limited amount of time we were working with, I felt that our end result was very successful. Something that I thought worked well about the play process was splitting into the two groups, the acting and set groups. I think that splitting into the smaller groups allowed us to be more productive and focused, and it broke up the amount of work into smaller tasks that were more manageable and easier. I remember when we were just starting out and we all sat together in a circle to try to come up with ideas, and I felt that we did not get a lot done and that it was not very productive because it was mainly just a few people talking for the whole time. But once we split off into the smaller groups we were able to make a lot more progress because we were able to focus on specific tasks and engage more people. One thing that I thought could have been improved was our marketing of the play, as witnessed by our extremely small audience in attendance of the performance. I am not entirely sure what the best way to get the word out about our play would be, if its emailing the teachers earlier so they have more time to plan ahead, expanding our audience to include any class that wanted to come, or spreading news of the play via word of mouth through friends. I think perhaps if we had tried all of those ideas we probably would have had a bigger audience and made for a better experience because it was a little difficult performing for an audience so small. That being said, that was one of the few knocks against the play that I could come up with, and in the end I was really impressed by how well our play turned out.

I think the audio, film, and visuals that we included worked well. It made the play more convincing. We used film to portray a trickier part of the story line that may have been hard to act out in a believable way. The audio added to the atmosphere and helped set the mood for each scene. The photos in the background showed the setting without the narrator having to describe where every scene took place. I also think the narrator helped create clear transitions between scenes and explain things that weren’t as obvious in each scene. I think we could have improved by finding more costumes to help create individual characters. This could have helped show personality and make it more obvious who each character was. The group that focused on props could have brainstormed simple costume ideas that people already have at home. I definitely think you should encourage students to incorporate a film piece not only because it adds to the play, but it also teaches students about different skills they may not be familiar with. The audio and background also added a lot to the play. I think these aspects should definitely be considered for next year is they choose to do the play project as well.

            The individual surveys to rate jobs worked well. I could tell that everyone was happy and comfortable with the tasks that they were assigned to. In the end though, everyone came together and helped out with writing, creating, and producing whether it was part of their “job description” or not. Even though I class was divided throughout the year, the play project helped us engage with each other because we bonded in our split groups. I also believe that giving us the independence to produce the play but also bringing in Mr. O’Hara to help us gave us a sense of urgency but also relief. This is because knowing that it was all on us to have a script and set done by the deadline helped us push each other to produce a well written and made play. With Mr. O’Hara’s help, we got a lot of small concerns and conflicts settled in our scripts. His good ideas helped catalyse the script writing and the class was more comfortable relying ideas. I understand that since this year was weird with scheduling we didn’t have as much time to rehearse, but I think that the lack of productivity during the rehearsals made a lot of us stressed about the final production. In terms of the set people, during the first few rehearsals we didn’t have all of our props for the actors/actresses so they felt incomplete when running through the show. For next year, the set design team should have everything prepared before the first rehearsal in order to utilize the time to make sure the show is as good as it able to be.

 

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Innovation Summit 2016 – We Are Makers: Educating the Next Generation of Innovators

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  • Project Zero Classroom –> go for a week (in Cambridge) and experiment with various routines
  • Agency by Design (of Project Zero) focuses on making
    • sketching an object from different perspectives
    • taking the object apart and sketching its parts
    • [could this be a jumping off point project for the SWS?
    • students bring an object of their choice and, it is hoped, the project / approach leads to a problem, a solution, an idea, a question, etc.?]
  • three phases to making: explore, create, share
  • each of us breaks into groups of 2-4 and are given a plastic bag with a plastic pencil sharpener, small tools, paper, and pencils
  • we first sketch the object from various perspectives, in the process considering the following:
    • what are its parts?
    • what are its purposes / the purposes of each part?
    • what are its complexities?
  • then the object is dismantled and each part is sketched and labeled
    • what are the parts of the system?
    • who are the people connected to the system?
    • how do the people in the system interact with each other and with the parts of the system?
    • how does a change in one element of the system affect the various parts and people connected to the system?
  • now innovate –> list improvements, sketch design ideas
    • how could it be made more effective?
    • how could it be made more efficient?
    • how could it be made more ethical?
    • how could it be made more beautiful?

PBL – Classical Lit Play Project – Student Open Responses to Project

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I had students choose three of four prompts for their open response assessment of the project and I will include some excerpts here. I also include the prompts above the excerpts.

Prompt #1 Excerpts

  • The play project was a success from an engagement standpoint; you all bought in more than I expected you to and, with few exceptions, remained engaged for the duration of the project. Do you feel that that engagement alone makes the project worthwhile? To put it another way, you were engaged. But what did you learn? What did you take away from the project? And is that take away enough to justify doing the project, i.e. is what you learned valuable enough / useful enough to warrant the project?

I personally think that engagement alone is not enough to count for the project. But I also feel that involvement is different than engagement. I was involved with building the car and making multiple marketing materials. I think this is enough to count for the project. The difference between this and engagement, is that engagement to me seems only like you are listening and following orders, you are not contributing to the overall project. I was very happy to have come up with the design of the poster and program and help on the car. This helped me work on my leadership skills and helped me develop the skills to work in a team. The teamwork itself and the fact that you are able to stand up for your idea and convey it to others is the core of what the english class covers. The only difference is that while in the classroom we write down these ideas and have their validity assessed. That is one of the many reasons why I believe that if a person is actively contributing to the project, then it is worth it to them, and covers similar material to the english classroom.

But not only do you learn to work in a team, you learn to organize. This is one of the best things about this project in my mind.. We organized ourselves into a sort of power structure with certain students telling others what to do, and this to me was very impressive that this could be done with only a minimal amount of bickering. This also taught the leaders of the group that it just as important to listen as to command. And that is a very important life skill that they will use everyday.

The combination of leadership, teamwork, and organization, makes this project worthwhile to me. I took a lot of important social skills away from this project and I think it would be valuable for the younger classes to do the same as us and take on this play project.

 

As for the usefulness compared to a conventional paper, doing the play project is in my opinion a bit more challenging. In a conventional paper, the student would simply read the book and write a paper connecting basic ideas from the story. Most students are capable of such a task, but a project like this requires both planning and preparation, along with research and consolidation of main ideas. To be able to take an ancient story, modernise it, and still be able to successfully communicate the main ideas of the story is worth enough to merit another iteration of this project. This type of work requires another kind of understanding compared to a paper or test, and it is also dependent on the types of people involved in this project; not everybody is cut out or even wants to participate in a project of this scale. Luckily for us, this class was prepared and had the right kind of attitude to successfully complete this project. For that, I think this was actually more useful than a standard paper.

 

I thought the play served as a good summary of what we did over the entire year. Over the course of the entire year, our main task was to read classical texts and interpret the language in a way that we could understand. The in-class essays and papers we wrote basically tested our understanding of the text. In this assignment, we basically did the same thing. We took a classical play, and translated it into something more easily understood by generations of today using modern language. We gave our interpretation of the play, using skills that we developed over the course of the year. Although while researching background information on the play I did learn some new information, such as the existence of stock characters, I was mainly using knowledge I had learned throughout the year. Therefore I didn’t really learn much, as someone typically doesn’t learn anything new when preparing/taking a final. The play acted as a solid review of the year.

 

I feel that this project taught me a lot that I could not have learned in a traditional setting. Firstly, I believe that working in large groups is an under-taught skill in school. Most often, work is done individually or at most in a group of 3-4 students. The large group setting presents its own set of challenges and has an entirely different dynamic than the small group. In a small group, everyone mostly works on the same tasks and fill the same roles. In a larger group, like that of our class during the project, different people need to take on different jobs, tasks need to be divvied up, and work needs to be delegated. This was a very important hurdle to overcome as a class. This meant forming task forces, communicating our plans with each other, and making sure everyone had a role to play in the project. Working in this type of setting is uncommon in school. For me, this alone made the play worthwhile. Additionally, the format of the project provided an interesting learning opportunity. Most school projects are narrow in scope and predictable in nature. Once you’ve done one PowerPoint/iMovie/poster, you’ve done them all. These projects are often more about matching the teachers rigidly defined guidelines for the project than producing an original product. Projects end up being guided more by the teacher’s vision than the student’s. In the case of the play project, we were really in charge of deciding the direction in which we would take our play. We had to make several critical decisions ourselves, as a group. Making decisions was an important skill to practice. Generally speaking, the play was well worth it. These lessons, while a departure from the norm, were a necessary supplement to the standards lessons of school.

 

I liked the fact that no matter what our role was in the play or how we chose to participate, we still covered the academic material we needed to. We all did research on Roman comedy in general and also on the Menaechmi and then debated it as a class as we would if we read a book. This was definitely a good first step for the project, because the final goal was really to achieve a better understanding of Roman comedy. It ensured that no matter what we went on to do for the actual production of the play, we would be able to bring our knowledge of ancient comedy into our work.

 

I feel that overall the play was a worthwhile project, although I do not directly account that to the engagement.  It was definitely a project that hooked the majority of our class and really united us.  Personally the reason that I felt the play was worthwhile was due to the fact that it was the most interested in a book I have been all year.  While I did enjoy some of the other books we read throughout the year, I was never forced to understand them to a level that I did with the Menaechmi.  Previously I didn’t need to learn specifically about the different characters and their roles in the play as well as the background and theme.  Although I did need to understand that to a basic level before, this play forced me to go further into the book than I previously had this year.  It was also a great first hand experience to learn about ancient plays.  Before I had little to no understanding of them and although our play wasn’t very ancient, we tried to make it a similar for example with the three building background.  However, I believe that the biggest take away was bonding with my class, including some kids that I wouldn’t normally consider myself friends with.  This diverse group of kids came together to overcome the challenge of building a low budget stage with only resources that we could find within the school and in students homes.  Overall I feel as though these add up to making the play very worthwhile and useful and would definitely recommend doing similar projects in the future.

 

I think that the engagement would make the project worthwhile because it would help bring the class together and help people how to work together as a team. I think that it was a valuable experience for the class. I think that this is worth more than a paper or other conventional project because it helps teach how to work as a team and we already have done several conventional papers/projects in the past. In terms of engagement, I was able to participate productively for a decent amount of the project. In the beginning of the production, I feel that I didn’t participate as much as I thought I should, but I’m not sure whether it was due to the lack of pressure from later deadlines (just plain failure to do work) or whether we didn’t have enough materials from the play-writing team to work. Engagement was adequate for the whole class and was worth it because it helped with teamwork (as I mentioned before).

To be honest, I didn’t learn that much in terms of traditional terms in an english classroom. This has helped with competing work before deadlines and a little on organization with deadlines for creation of certain objects for the set. The project helped with identifying what was needed to create the project. I don’t think that the amount of learning would be valuable enough to warrant the project, but the break from traditional work and the teambuilding and deadline work made the project worth it.

 

I will still be less likely to forget what I learned while doing the play specifically because it varied from the traditional ways, and so it will be something that will stick out in my memory for years to come. I might not remember everything that happened in the Iliad in ten years, but I will remember doing this play and everything that I learned while doing it.

 

While I was certainly engaged in the project I do not feel that I learned much. My role was merely to rewrite the play in a blander form. Unfortunately, as a result of the play needing to be school appropriate, short, and written by committee virtually all humor and wit was removed, and the play was cut to not much more than plot. This would have been fine if that were just the first step in the process of truly making it our own and we were planning to add the wit and humor back in later, but that regrettably was not the case, and the play that was presented was little more than the skeleton of what could have been a good play. This meant that I did not learn much because instead of writing truly lifelike and witty dialogue, which would have been a real learning experience, the dialogue that ended up being written did not do much more than move the plot along. In short, I certainly learned how to cut something down to its bones, but I missed out on learning how to build it back up afterwards, the part that I feel would have been the most valuable, and so I don’t believe that I learned enough to make the time put into the project truly worthwhile, at least for me.

Prompt #2 Excerpts

  • Speaking of the future, should I do this next year? You all were particularly willing to undertake this project. I’d like to take credit for that but am realistic enough to know that my role in your engagement was likely relatively minor. We had a good combination of skills, personalities, and interests and that produced a good process and product. But is that good process and product a requirement for undertaking this? Is the project still valuable if a subsequent class does not buy in as much / does not produce as good (or a good at all) final product? Should that impact my decision to do the project again or not?

I believe that you should definitely continue this project into the following years.  As I stated in the prompt before, this project was probably the most involved in class that I have been all year.  It was also a great learning source for me as I learned in depth about the different aspects of the Menaechmi .  For example I had to learn about the different characters fairly in depth in addition to the history of Ancient plays.  Although I do believe that the class needs to be into the idea of putting on a play.  If they don’t want to I would advise against it.  You may be able to entice them with the idea that it is less work, which is admittedly the reason that I wanted to peruse to play.  If they can buy onto this idea, I’m sure that they will come around and eventually enjoy the project.  I also believe that the diverse group of students did help.  Even without many drama kids or students who are frequently involved in the play, we managed to push our way through it.  We had kids with an artistic side who could come together to make the masks and the set.  We also had some kids to re-write the script.  It seemed that there was a suitable role for everyone.  Had our class not bought in as much I don’t believe it would have been worth it.  It was only because just about our whole class actually cared about the project that it turned out the way it did and made it valuable.  This combined with participation is why I feel the play was worthwhile and would recommend for future years.  More specifically I believe that we should definitely do this again next year in Medieval, as the play was one of the topics I used to persuade friends to take Medieval next year.

 

I think it really depends. I personally think that it should be done again as it is a very fun experience and a new and fun way to learn. However, It really depends on how willing they are to do this project in the following years. Even if they are not as willing as us to do the project, if they at least have a little enthusiasm, I think it would be a good idea to do this project. If they have the enthusiasm, then even if the process and product are not good, I think it would still be worth it to do it. Even if it comes out badly, it would be a valuable experience for people in the class and possibly show them a new and more fun way to learn. I think that these things should impact your decision with people’s enthusiasm being weighted the most heavily. I think this because as you said, this class had a good combination of skills, personalities, and interests to make the play happen. Thanks to these, our play came out very nicely. However, other classes over the next few years may not have as good combinations of these. Even if they had just as much enthusiasm, or possibly even more, they still might not have as good of a final product. That is why I think that everything should impact your decision to do the project again, but that the classes enthusiasm should be the thing considered the most in your decision. I think that instead of making it your decision, it would also be a good idea to take the classes decision into account. You could have them vote on what to do, and then take that into account when making your decision.

 

I don’t think that you should do this project again because I don’t think that most of us learned very much. It was definitely a valuable experience for the actors, but I think that the rest of the class took away very little. Along with that, I think that it would be even less valuable for classes that do not want to do it, as they would be unwilling to put in the effort necessary for learning to take place. If, however, there is a class that seems very excited about doing the project I would let them do it, but ensure that there are activities outside of the production itself (such as research and interpretation) so that there are enough things to do for everyone to be doing something meaningful and educational.

 

I think that the end product is relatively unimportant as long as the process was meaningful. Putting on a play is wildly different from what any of the other English classes did and is something that was new experience for many of us in the classroom. I think one of the reasons we were so engaged in this project was because we agreed to do it as a class together. It was an idea that we embraced from the beginning. People tend to do things better when chose to do it themselves. I know that I am going to enjoy a book less when it is assigned no matter how good it is because of this mindset that it was something forced upon me. However, I choose to partake in this play, so my efforts were more self-motivated and authentic. We were willing to collaborate. So for next year, whether you put of a play next year depends on whether the students in the class are keen to the idea. We primarily did all of the work, but if a class doesn’t want to do a project in the first place, they aren’t going to go into it with much enthusiasm. I don’t think the project is as valuable if the next class does not buy into it because they will just be going through the motions. I don’t think that this play project is easily refused though. English class throughout the entire school system has been generally the same to whole time. Its a lot of reading and analyzing and not a lot of creativity. To be given the opportunity to do something new and innovative is something that a lot of people want. It also has that “look! our class is more interesting that yours” factor to it (although that could be applied to the whole of classical literature).

Prompt #3 Excerpts

  • Let’s talk grading and work load. Describe your role / your work load for the project: do you think that it was an appropriate amount of work? Independent of that, how should you / could you be graded? Check-ins along the way, either in writing or one-on-one with me? How should the performance / final product factor in? Should the audience factor in, i.e. whether they are given some sort of rubric, whether they can ask you questions at the end of the performance, etc.? Do you think people in this year’s class don’t deserve an A? If yes, for qualitiative (i.e. the quality of the work they did)? or quantitative (i.e. the amount of work they did) reasons?

I think instead that each week you should check in with each person and make sure they have something that they are working on and that they have set a deadline as to when they will complete this. Or even better, get a student to keep track of this as this is yet another way for the students to be independant and self sufficient. Which I think is the best part of this project.

 

I was an actor in this project. However, I was also a writer in that I wrote a part of the script. I thought it was an appropriate amount of work  for my role as I felt it would have been unfair if I had only briefly acted out a script I had no part in writing. We probably could have been graded based on check-ins throughout the project. Just to see if we had gotten an adequate amount of work done in the time given as well as how well we were managing our time. I personally would prefer the check ins be in writing rather one to one. In that case, the check-in can just be given to the class as a whole. I feel a one to one check in is a little bit excessive. The final performance should definitely factor into the final grade to some extent, but not as much as grading on the entire process. The final performance may not completely reflect the effort that went into the play by each participant. The audience factor may be an interesting thing to add next year. Although this play was most definitely fun, adding audience questions could make the project more challenging and students may be able to get more out of doing the play. I do not think anyone in our class necessarily doesn’t deserve an A. To be honest I don’t really know what half the class did exactly but in the end, everything ties together pretty nicely and the play went pretty decently. I think we all worked pretty equally hard in different ways and all deserve a pretty good grade.

 

There was an appropriate amount of work in that it took extensive writing and planning time in order to make the play a success. One-on-one check-in’s are a good way to see if everyone is doing their part. You could ask each individual how they have been working on the play itself and what they have been doing to improve it.  I think that people should not just be graded by the outcome of the play and it’s success, I think that people should be graded by the amount of effort they put into the play itself. This does not just mean how much they wrote or whether or not they acted, if everyone was involved and doing their fair share I think that is how they should be graded, although it may seem like some people did more work than others I think everyone worked to make the final product a success. The audience’s opinion should not factor into the grading of each individual, but it should be recorded because it would be interesting to see where or if improvements were needed. Having the audience ask questions would also be a good thing to add, so that it gives people the chance to show their knowledge of the research that they did on the play.

 

The workload for the project was obviously less than that of normal English class. That was one of the main reasons we decided to do the play in the first place. However, I feel like workload and learning are often made to be a false equivalence. We certainly learned different things with the project than we would have in a standard class, but I don’t think we learned any less. I think being able to get the same learning out of less work is an ideal situation for school. Work for work’s sake is far too common in school. The biggest problem with the project in deciding how to grade it. Because the entire class is working together to produce a single end product, it is difficult to give different grades to different members of the class. Making it a pass-fail grade is one good way to go about it. If the class is successful in putting on a play, and you did your job, then you deserve an A. Otherwise, you have to start thinking about the fail part of pass-fail. Another way to handle grades would be to combine the final product with a student’s individual contributions. The bulk of the student’s points, say 80%, would come from simply producing a play at the end of the project. The remainder would be earned by doing the basic requirements of your role. If you’re an actor, you would get an A if you memorized most of lines. If you’re a writer, you get an A if you contributed to rewriting the play. This would allow for individualized grades based on the effort level each person puts in. I don’t think the actual quality of the play should have an impact on the grade, unless the play is truly horrendous. Grading in English class is already subjective enough; we don’t need to add more abstraction to grading. This year, I think everyone did their share of the work and deserves an A. There were days when there simply weren’t tasks for everyone to help with, but this was a result of the process itself rather than a lack of willingness from anyone. Everyone bought in and did their part. This was very evident during the final few days when the pressure was on. Everyone was racing around trying to get things done.

 

I think that the workload was quite light for this project and could be increased, which could also help with breaking up the grading. At least for the design/technical aspects of the play, it might be interesting if you required the students to present their designs/ideas. For example, if there is a team working on designing props, they could come up with a conceptual design and/or list of what they would use, then a to-scale design and/or finalized list, and then the final product. Through the designs, the students could show how they are taking different aspects of the story into account, and they could show their level of understanding of both the original and re-written texts. Having the design students present their ideas would also kill two birds with one stone: it would give those students a work load more equivalent to that of the students who are re-writing the play, and it would give you a chance to grade them on more than just a pass/fail scale. We did do some designing for the set, but I think it would be a good idea to decide on dates that the preliminary design would be due, and then when the final design would be due. Another thing that professional theatres do that could be incorporated next year (because I know that we strived for nothing less than professional) is the designers officially present their ideas to the cast and directors. This gives everyone an idea of the space they will have to work in and what props and other things they will have to work with. It could also be a part of their grades, just as the first read-through of the script could be for the students who re-wrote the play.

The only way of grading that I think definitely should not be adopted if you do the project next year is the audience rubric type of assessment. Especially for this project, the audience probably won’t be paying attention to the parts of the production that are the most meaningful for the course. I can imagine that if an audience member were grading our show, they would pay more attention to the quality of the acting or the set than they would to how we interpreted the original play and how the designs reflected classical Roman theatre with a modern twist.

 

Check ins along the way are a good idea, because they tend to be a wake up call for people who may not be doing as much work as they should. I think a face to face check in would be more effective, as it’s sometimes hard to get a full sense of someone’s ideas with direct written questions and answers. A face to face check in allows for follow up questions and it allows you to make the check in specific to the person. I don’t think that the audience should play a role in grading the students. Some audience members, probably friends of the actors, might not take the questions seriously and give out very bad of very good grades as either a joke or a favor. Other audience members might just grade on the acting, which is not what students should be graded on at all. In addition, the audience was not there for the rewriting process and the building of the sets, so they would have no way of grading people’s efforts in that area. As far as a rubric goes, I do not think one is necessary. The grading for a project like this, where most people are outside of their normal comfort zones, is a project that should be graded almost entirely on effort. Some people definitely did more work than others in the production, not necessarily through fault of their own. Of course, I am biased because I was an actor, but I think that the rewriting/acting process required much more work than making masks and preparing the set. I don’t think that this should necessarily be reflected in the grades on people who worked on the set, just stating an opinion. In the future, one option might be to require everyone to help rewrite the play, although writing a script with 20 people may prove almost impossible.

 

The grading on this kind of project would be tough in my opinion because there are so many roles that seem miniscule while still being greatly important. Certain roles definitely had enough work and for such a project, especially the writers, directors, and actors. In my opinion, I know the people making the sets and costumes were very important in giving the play its look and visual “appeal”, but I do think that they did considerably less work than the writers/directors/actors, since the actors and directors were pretty much the writers. For this reason, I believe that there should be a bit more than pass or fail. Maybe a third spot, for something in between the two. Again, I understand that there wasn’t much that they could of done, but I wish they did more than play games outside while we wrote the play and then throw some props together in the last week of preparations. It was somewhat frustrating, and made me regret choosing my role after seeing how easy they got it. As an actor, we were required to write our own lines, and rehearse/memorize them, in addition to performing the play. I believe that we definitely had the bulk of the project, with the directors in second for also writing and organizing the scenes and choreography. By the end of the performances, I was exhausted while I heard others who did set design talking about how this was such a breeze. In the end, I go back to my initial point. This is hard to grade, especially because some smaller roles, still play an important part, but there is a line, and I wish the set design group had participated in the “English Class” part of the play a bit more.

Prompt #4 Excerpts

  • Assess the project. What do you think worked well? What do you think needed improvement or tweaking? This response shouldn’t be a list but rather focus in on one, two, at most three things, and develop your thoughts about them.

I’ve said it already and I’ll say it again, we overcame obstacles that would have been extremely challenging for 20 strangers working together. We thought creatively to solve our problems and worked as a team effectively, and when someone had advice to share, others listened in instead of immediately shutting it down. As so many people said in the survey that we took, we became closer as an english class, and we created a reasonable project that we can all put our names on in one place or another. I think that everyone in the project can be proud of the work we did, again considering all but one of us has knowledge in this field, because of the things we were able to accomplish as a group.

 

Although flexibility may be bad at certain times because people get stuck with making decisions, in this case it worked well. Due to the flexibility of the project, we were allowed to pick the project, pick the time setting, make the lines, and make the props ourselves. The flexibility caused some difficulties at the beginning as many people were lost in the beginning and not sure what to do. However, this was quickly fixed, and people found the direction to go in. Even though it was difficult in the beginning, the effort people put in more than made up for the time lost. If there was no flexibility in this project, then even if we had more time, the project still might have not been as successful as it was this time. Giving us the power to choose and work on it ourselves was a big gamble, but I think it paid off in the end.

 

Perhaps, if this project is introduced again, there should be days of reflection scattered throughout the weeks of preparing and rehearsing where you ask the class if/how they are understanding the deeper aspects of the greek play more and greek playwriting in general. This way, they will have any insights made within them during the process up to the production of the play. This could also help students learn more about the play than they would have before as the insights they made before would spark an interest or help to notice other things about the play. Such insights are half of the sole purpose of this play, to learn more about greek literature, so I feel that this aspect of the project should definitely be revised if done again.

 

Looking at the project now, I believe it was a  really good idea. Although some aspects I felt were somewhat unfair, and learning that acting is not necessarily my favorite thing to do, I felt the project was much more fun than traditional class and definitely more memorable. I think the project also provided many experiences and insight into aspects of all the plays we read that we hadn’t understood before. It helps me understand the reasoning for different writing styles in the plays. The point of reading these plays is because they serve as a huge representation of the culture at the time they were made. If we want to study not only this, but the literary aspect as well, then It is important for us to understand the work and art put into executing such a performance. We need to understand the things that would physically happen in addition to just the story and plot. Without this, these plays become just another story that we read. Now that we learn about the other side of them, a whole new meaning emerges and lets us experience plays in a different and more traditional way, all thanks to the experiences in this project.

 

Latin Board Game Project

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We’re discussing the efficacy of final exams at school (seems we’ve been doing so for a few years now) and, since my Latin course became a bit more project-based as the year went on, I decided to try a project for the final exam rather than a more traditional exam. It took me a while to come up with something that I felt would adequately encapsulate the scope of the year but I think the idea works and, in many ways, encompasses more of the year (the full year) than the final exam would (just the second semester).

Today was the day that the games were due and, if I’m being honest, I was actually a bit overwhelmed when I entered the room. I was assaulted (in a good way) by the panoply of color and figure and 3 dimensionality that the games represented. I didn’t even know how to proceed with the class and, in retrospect, will / would have allowed for more time to play the games. I almost feel as if the time spent with the games wasn’t appropriate for the amount of work that went into them (with that said, we did spend the last week of school working on them in class, so they had plenty of class time; they did too, though, put in a good amount of time outside of class as well). So I toured the games, having each individual or group present a basic overview to me, checking off the requirements as I went. And once that was done, the class dispersed to play each other’s game. It was a fun way to end the year.

PBL – Classical Lit Play – Performances

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So the project officially, I suppose, finished today. We performed the play; no more rehearsals, retakes, rewrites, descension into giggles (ok, maybe one or two of those), squabbling, painting, etc. We performed once in school, last block, to which I invited teachers to bring their classes, and which the superintendent and principal, as well as one assistant principal and maybe six or seven teachers without their classes, attended; there were maybe 70 or so people there. And then maybe 20 friends and family members at the 5.30 show this evening, as well as two other teachers.

I see, especially recently, frequent exhortations to ‘go outside of your comfort zone’ or ‘get uncomfortable’, and I’m pretty sure I checked that one off my list today. Especially for the afternoon show (largely, I suspect, because there were more people and more variables (mid-day for students, first time through, etc.) I was more nervous, I would say, than I have been in quite a while. And nervous is one of those emotions / feelings that I certainly don’t like to admit I ever feel.

With that said, both shows went well. I think the evening show had a bit more sympathetic audience, because it was largely parents, i.e. we got more laughs when we were supposed to, or perhaps better hoped to, get laughs, and the afternoon show was bigger but was perhaps expecting a bit more traditional (or successful) humor. As our drama director said to some of the actors on the way out, the moments they were improv-ing were their funniest (and he didn’t mean it in a mean way).

From an educational standpoint, and I’ll talk more about this in the coming weeks, but I did want to get a fresh, only-me take down before I start the debrief and review process with my class, this project has raised all sorts of compelling pedagogical questions. In no particular order, and with further explication coming:

  • The play was a success from an engagement standpoint; the students bought in more than I expected them to. But does engagement alone equal success or pedagogical value? There is a yes argument to be made, that engaged students approach what they do with a primed engine, and that they will absorb whatever they are learning, even if it is more intangible, more deeply and more easily than content that is presented to them in a way with which they are not (as) engaged. But…
  • What exactly did they learn? They were engaged, but what are their actual takeaways? And even if those takeaways are valuable, or at least not invaluable, are they worthwhile replacements for content and/or specific skills (albeit content and/or specific skills that they might not have learned as readily or as long-term-y because they weren’t engaged in the same way)?
  • How should they be assessed? The easy-but-so-complicated answer is that they shouldn’t be, that they were engaged throughout the process and they produced a viable final project. If I could just pass them all I would, but that of course doesn’t quite translate into our grading system. And there were maybe between 2 and 4 students that I worried had distanced themselves slightly from the process in a way that made me wonder how I would / should handle that in the future, but they were not so distanced that I felt it negatively impacted the project or their participation in or appreciation of it.
  • Speaking of the future, will I do this next year? This class seemed particularly willing to undertake this project. I’d like to take credit for that but am realistic enough to know that my role in their engagement was likely relatively minor. We had a good combination of skills, personalities, and interests and that produced a good process and product. But is that good process and product a requirement for undertaking this? Is the project still valuable if a class does not buy in as much? does not produce as good (or a good at all) final product?
  • This year, for a first attempt, I was very careful to ensure commitment; I did not want to undertake this without the class’ commitment. I wanted this to be their project rather than mine. Can I or should I take the same approach next year? Is the project dependent more on my commitment to it or their commitment to it? And should that matter?

So those are some of the questions that I’ve been thinking about throughout this process. Would love to hear thoughts / input / feedback. I include here too some pictures I took from the afternoon performance.

2016-06-06 13.46.402016-06-06 13.47.312016-06-06 13.48.192016-06-06 13.48.282016-06-06 13.53.59

PBL – Classical Lit Play – Dress Rehearsal

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So it’s happening. In some form. But it’s happening (actually as I type this). It’s by no means perfect but it’s something resembling a play. They’ve done a good job. 

PBL – Classical Lit Play – Almost There…?

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So tomorrow is our last class before the play on Monday. I’ll say that again: tomorrow is our last class before the play on Monday. We ‘re in…ok shape. In many ways it’s come together better and more quickly than I would have expected, though Tony-worthy it is not. I’ll speak more to its real successes and failures after it’s over and I debrief with the class but I did want to include some pictures of the raising of the backdrop.

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