Focus sessions are time put aside to allow students to plan, carry out research, work on and reflect on their projects. At present we appear to setting dead lines for students to complete certain tasks in each focus session. This is fine at the first graduation stage (Asteroid), but we appear to have fallen into creating very task driven projects that end up losing site of the driving question and supplementary questions which support it. The students become less analytical and less reflective, focusing on completing a task at all cost, resulting in the driving question not being at the centre of everyone’s attention especially the Facilitators
The question this begs is the extent to which Facilitators are aware of how important it is to draw the students back to this question; to what extent does the work the students are carrying out at any given time, take them a step closer to answering the question?
The role of the facilitator during focus sessions is crucial. At present the teachers involved tend to view the sessions in the traditional sense, in that the students arrive at their class. The expectation is that the students will be working on roughly the same things and a traditional lesson plan can be prepared for the session. This perception by the teachers has been difficult to dispel. It is safer and easier for the teachers to have their students nicely controled in "boxes", doing what is expected of them. Allowing students the freedom to work at their own pace with perhaps 5 or more different tasks or activities taking place is taking the secondary teacher out of their comfort zone.
Facilitators of Focus sessions should:
Be aware of the project and it's milestones and products
Be prepared to have students workign at different rates
know where to access information to help students
At the beginning or during a session remind students of the driving question (similar to returning to objectives).
Systematically work with teams or individuals in order to check quality, progress and understanding.
Keeping track of progress so that the next teacher taking over is aware of progress.
Perhaps at the Asteroid stage we need to be getting the students into good habits by being driven less by the content. We could lengthen the project and be more didactic in our approach so that in addition to seminars and individual tutorials, students have to do the following at set times during some focus sessions:
· to reflect individually on progress (in terms of literacy or numeracy attainment and developing good habits of learning)
· share progress with each other – how close are they to answering the driving question?
· Draw out and discuss supplementary questions or new concepts that arise during the project
· Review plan and revise if necessary
Obviously students will still require time to actually produce products for their projects, and carry out research and team organisation, but the above points need to be included on a regular basis. It is especially important that the driving question is returned to frequently so that students (and facilitators) don’t lose site of this. My wife is on the phone to someone - probably another man
Obviously students will still require time to actually produce products for their projects, and carry out research and team organisation, but the above points need to be included on a regular basis. It is especially important that the driving question is returned to frequently so that students (and facilitators) don’t lose site of this.
My wife is on the phone to someone - probably another man