Supporting Successful Product Assignments Part 1 of 7

My last series of posts was about designing curriculum for powerful product assignments. This seven post series is about supporting students through the process.

People communicate in a wide variety of ways. Inspire your students to push beyond the poster, rise above the written report and move past the mobile. Early in the school year introduce your students to a variety of modes of expression, materials, and technologies through required product styles (lower grades) or limited choices (upper grades). Lower grade students may not have much or any product creation experience so having a set product is ideal whereas upper-grade students have already had experience creating some products in the past. It is important as you need to teach students the required production skills. Teach them what a quality (grade-level appropriate) product looks like in this format. For upper-grades, this may be a quick review but with lower grades, this will take more time as it will be a step by step guide. Later in the year, consider letting go of the reins some and letting students have limited choices (lower grades) or free choice (upper grades) with approval. Teachers create student buy in the assignment by allowing students to have more control over the product. The more they decide themselves, the more they will want to create a quality assignment.

For a group project: If each group is reporting on a different aspect of the curriculum then you can build groups based on their top 3 aspect choices. For example, 5th-grade students may pick their top 3 colonies to report on during a 13 colonies unit. You place students into groups based on their submission. This allows them to feel that they had a choice on their colony but still allows you to design the groups as you wish (homogeneously or heterogeneously).

For an individual project: If each student is reporting on a different topic (ex: leopards, koalas) within a theme (animals) you can select enough topics for the class plus at least one extra (so everyone has a choice, even the very last student). Then do a random drawing using equity sticks to call students up to pick their topic. You could have the topics available on a list that they read and select from. You could make it more of a game as well. The randomly selected student could come up and draw a numbered stick. Once every numbered stick had been drawn you could reveal the list to show what number matches what topic.  You could also give students one minute to swap numbered sticks with anyone. The gamification will take more time but it could also be a fun little activity to get the kids up and moving.