We are beginning to double back now that the arty part of our culminating projects are winding up. Students are beginning to spend more time working with their research notes and making sure that they've answered their Team Focus Question with the models and also with summaries that they're writing.
Since they were interested in putting together a Mastodon Museum, I scavenged some examples of what museum placards looked like. Google quickly brought up many examples using the Images search function. See these helped students remember what they themselves have seen when they've gone to places and they were able to get to work fairly quickly on it.
Where they struggled was knowing how to start writing. Always I'm directing them to tie it back to their team question. Asking "How does this relate to your team question", "Will this help someone understand how you've answered the question your team researched?" or even "What were the things that kept coming up over and over again when you did all your searching?". I watch students as they figured out that they should look for commonalities in their research notes that could easily be converted into a placard kind of thing.
Several groups realized that they didn't have enough examples...I was thrilled to watch one group get up and go outside my room to look at another group's map. The map group had pinpointed where different animals that were contemporary to the Hyde Park mastodon had lived and basic stats about those animals. They used each other's expertise to expand the answer to their question.
I also think the big improvement I made in how we are approaching this culminating presentations is to have them do a better job with time management. Before they jumped into working on their models, I insisted (and I had lots of sad faces and exasperated glances) that they draw up a plan that had specific tasks for each person with specific due dates. And then they had to write it all in their planners so that I could see they knew exactly what and when their products were due. These were all due dates they established within their teams and that will be interim steps to meeting my final deadline date.
They sort of cracked up when they realized it sounded much harder than it really was. Most figured out that there wasn't enough left to do on their models so that one or two of the group could continue working on the placard.
This was a huge revelation for them. Previously I don't think they had much idea about the practicalities of delegation. This project helped them see that possibility. What I had hoped for was that they would build on the strengths of each team member and delegate along those lines. Sometimes it worked out that way....sometimes it didn't. I'll have to see where everything sorts out in the end to see what I think is my best way to coach them through the next time.