First, student groups must be closely monitored. Groups of three are particularly suspect. Two members often form the contributory team while the third is disenfranchised. I've counselled several students who are teams-of-one and do their best work alone. I've noticed these are high-performers who will seek advice in class and online via email, etc., but need the freedom to work in a framework where they can make sweeping changes. These students are highly entrepreneurial in the sense they form their own small business.
Second, groups of two sometimes morph into groups of four. There's something about even numbered groups that enables groups to delegate subtasks effectively. In one instance, two students worked on a model, while their counterparts managed the project report and reflection. Sitting in on their discussions, I was impressed how, without much guidance, the students established team expectations, assigned roles, and strategized their project-approach. I found there's much to learn through quiet observation.
Third, students might be digital natives, but yearn to express learning using physical materials. In the gallery below, you'll notice many of the projects have digital components expressed through physical materials. The Linnaeus newspaper for example has quick resonse (QR) codes leading to resources on the web including Amazon and YouTube. I'd introduced students to goo.gl and demonstrated how to create QR codes. Most had no idea what these were or their usefulness. Once demonstrated though, they were hooked on the idea of a poster with links that can never run low on battery power. A second project uses a magazine approach. In the article, Carolus Linnaeus is interviewed about his System Natura. An audio recording is included on the included CD. I found it intriguing the voices were robotized to ensure privacy.
Audio Recording Project #1 ----> Carolus Linnaeus Magazine Interview
Another team chose role play and created a radio-play of their project. In Chaos at the Ark National Museum, Linnaeus rides to the rescue amidst a museum in organizational shambles. With a flair for the creative, the scene unfolds. I must admit this kind of marking is far superior in sustaining an instructor's interest. After years of paper-to-pencil assessments, creative projects kindle a revived interest in assessment.
Audio Recording Project #2 -----> Chaos at the Ark National Museum / Linnaeus to the Rescue
And finally, I realized something I'd long suspected -- that students naturally gravitate to their preferred learning styles. This is evident in the mode students chose to express their projects: audio-recordings, plays, drama, written text, digital written text, role-play, artistic drawing, and combinations. Taking Garner's Multiple Intelligences to account, I wasn't surprised, rather pleasantly reassured that students can find their ideal means of expressing learning. This isn't to say helpful advice isn't warranted. It seems that advice begins on a yellow brick road of the students' choosing while instructors are welcome and insightful guides.
Cheers and thanks for popping by -- Mr. J. Bleecker