Monday, April 25, 2011

New Assignments; A Risk Worth Taking

Whenever I introduce a new assignment into a course I run the risk of failure or an unmitigated disaster especially if the assignment is quite unlike anything I have ever done before.

When I started teaching the introductory course Schools and Society last semester I decided that I wanted to include a stronger educational theory component. The course would still address the required content but the students would come into closer and deeper contact with what I call the Great Educators. I asked my colleagues for names of Great Educators who had influenced them and so consequently influenced their teaching at St. Mike's. The resulting list included 25 Great Educators.

I then created a two part assignment in which the students and I would first create a web-page with 3 links to informative websites for each of the 25 Great Educators. The students, for the second part of the assignment, would then take notes on each of the 25 Educators and select the 5 which most impressed them. Much to my delight, two of the students handed in their papers before it was due. It is clear from reading these papers that the assignment is going to be a major success. The students really enjoyed being able to choose the 5 who really "spoke" to them as well as the idea of being at least familiar with the main thoughts and ideas of the other 20 Educators.

As first year students they will have plenty of opportunity to develop and change their philosophies of education but at least they seem to have started with a passion and caring for educational theory which hopefully will last them a lifetime.

The picture is of a Rubber Band Roller, an assignment I created many years ago in my science ed class that has also proven to be very effective in assessing my students problem solving skills.

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