The power of an audience


audience

that's an audience!

My students have just completed a web-based “wiki” project using their blogs. They generated and researched a guiding question of their choice that related to the overall project driving question, “How do we reconcile science and personal beliefs?

Students in my class are not motivated by grades. I do not grade them; they grade themselves. Yet, they have worked very hard on each of our major projects this year.

Why? There are several reasons: choice, inquiry, engaging content, etc. All are important. When you are working on a project, deadlines are a big concern. When you are not grading your students, you can’t use the threat of lowered grades for late work.  People ask me all the time, “how do you get kids to complete work by deadlines?” I have one answer:

An audience.

In the first 9th grade project of the year (integrated between biology, English and World History), the students  presented a poster to friends and family. The driving question was, “what determines who I become?” We had an unprecedented completion rate of virtually 100%. Historically, at our school, I have seen completion rates more in the neighborhood of two thirds; never 100%. Not on any major assignment or project.

Why are students so motivated to complete their project on time and with quality?

Because of the audience!

Our current 9th grade project (again, integrated between biology, English and World History) has been published to a worldwide internet audience. Students have received comments from all over the U.S. and beyond (India!). They were excited and nervous for the day that we “went live” with the project. They were motivated to do their best work because of the audience.

No amount of pushing, wheedling, cajoling, or threatening could motivate students like an audience!

Photo used under creative commons license from the Flickr stream of EricMagnuson

It’s Showtime! – How do we reconcile science and personal beliefs?

My previous post introduced you to my students’ current web-based project.  In this project, they answered the driving question, “How do we reconcile science and personal beliefs?”

Each student has generated his or her own guiding question that falls under the overarching driving question.  They are using their blogs (each of my students has his/her own) to answer their questions in a wiki style format.

The students have been engaged in deep research for a few weeks now and have used their research to answer their own questions.  The opportunity for an international audience has certainly fueled their efforts.  Now I need help to follow through on that promise of an audience!

How you can help:

  • Please visit my students’ wiki to read and provide comments
  • If you have students with computer access, please consider asking them to read and provide comments
  • Please help spread the word to as many people as possible, via blogs, email, Twitter, word of mouth, etc.

Without further ado, here is the link to the home page for the project:

http://wshsscience.edublogs.org/biology/science-personal-belief-wiki-project/

ENJOY!

A call for an audience!

My students are currently working on a web-based project.  In this project, they are answering the driving question, “How do we reconcile science and personal beliefs?”

Each student has generated his or her own guiding question that falls under the overarching driving question.  They are using their blogs (each of my students has his/her own) to answer their questions in a wiki style format.

Some student questions:

  • How are humans affecting the evolution of fish?
  • If extinct animals were still alive, how would that have affected human evolution?
  • How are humans evolving today?
  • If humans evolved from apes, why are there still apes?
  • How do different world religions feel about evolution?
  • How are modern humans and Neanderthals related?

The students have been engaged in deep research for a few weeks now and have begun drafting answers to their questions.  The opportunity for an international audience has certainly fueled their efforts.  Now I need help to follow through on that promise of an audience!

How you can help:

  • Please plan to visit my students’ wiki on 11/4 (or soon thereafter) to read and provide comments
  • If you have students with computer access, please consider asking them to read and provide comments
  • Please help spread the word to as many people as possible, via blogs, email, Twitter, word of mouth, etc.

Look for the link to the student wiki on 11/4 and thanks in advance for your help!