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Monitor and Adjust!

As teachers, we are always having to monitor and adjust. Sometimes, you have to change your lesson plan from one class to the next and sometimes you have to totally scrap an idea and go with something totally different. And, of course, there’s always that day when all technology fails and you have to resort to worksheets and textbooks. You always have to be ready to change on a moment’s notice! 

Sometimes, a brilliant idea turns out to be not so brilliant and you monitor and adjust for next year. This is what happened to me these past couple of weeks. I planned an awesome project for the Middle Ages. Students would have the option of doing a diorama, building a castle model, performing a play, or putting together a digital presentation. This way, all students have the opportunity to choose something that they are really good at. Then, they’ll research their chosen Middle Ages topic (such as feudalism or Black Plague) and create their project.

It sounded soooo great in my head. We had done a diorama project at the end of the year last year and it had been fabulous. The students had worked hard and the projects had been fantastic.

As we began the work, I saw my mistake. Dioramas on topics the students had already studied were much easier than dioramas on material not yet studied. My students struggle not only with self-motivation but with research. I don’t know why I expected them to be able to research the Black Plague or feudalism and create their own projects.

Now, as I grade the finished projects and am baffled at the lack of effort on some kids’ parts (after all, they had seven in class days to work on it), I am realizing that I will not do this again next year. I will, if I can, do the end-of-the-year dioramas but these students are just so behind on research skills and self-drive that this project was an epic failure. 

So if you’re a first-year teacher, know that it’s okay if things don’t go as you plan. It’s okay if you have this amazing idea for a project that’s hands-on and collaborative and it crashes and burns. Sometimes things don’t work out. Sometimes you have to try something to realize that it isn’t the best idea. That’s okay. Trying new things means you’ve got your kids best interests at heart.

I tried this.

It didn’t work.

So we’ll do something different next year! 

In the meantime, take a look at some of the stellar projects I got today: