The idea of the following blogposts related to our health project at Goethe Schule is the documentation of a process that is entirely new for me in such a dimension. It ripped me out of my comfort zone, but I think it is worth it.
This year, I decided to substitute the classical written examination in my health education class with project-based works. The idea behind is the “inspiration” I had after reading Alan November´s book: Who owns the learning. You can see my review and thoughts of the book here: Booksnap- Alan November. The idea of having my 16-year olds mastering in certain diseases of their own interest, allowing them to choose, and letting them think about how to share this mastery with the school community, came up as an idea of having our students working productively and fruitfully and not only for a mark.
With the approval of the authorities, that encouraged me to innovate in this subject and opened to me all possibilities, we also planned having specific campaigns shared on the elementary school (like lice, dengue fever and enterohaemorraghic E.Coli prevention, empowering the kids but also the parents in improving the control and habits to avoid nasty and even fatal diseases).
With the help of technology and ipad/netbooks availability for the lessons to have the students engaged in research, we began working on the projects at the beginning of may. Five classrooms, 83 students, 5 different groups of diseases, 27 different diseases. A huge challenge in many aspects:
- How to plan and assign relevant diseases according to the interest of the different groups of students, knowing them now for already almost 2 months
- Design a clear, realistic and transparent rubric that would allow me to evaluate the learning process, share it with the students so they are aware of the teacher´s expectations
- Think about my own methods and tools to keep accurate and fair tracking of each group´s, of each student´s learning during the research process
- Documenting the process and engaging students in documenting their own process
- Offer to the students different tools to choose from for their final product: the billboard + some other media-based production that completes the campaign information. And most difficult: trying to motivate them to get out of their “prezi-powerpoint-comfort zone”.
- Raise funds in order to be able to print out good quality and serious billboards for the campaigns at our school. In case they are reusable and of interest, offer the campaigns to solidarity ONG´s that could use them for schools or hospitals in less favored socioeconomic environments.
- Find the space in the school dynamics to organize the several “awareness/prevention weeks/days” and having a) the students prepared and b) the public engaged and interested
- Finding enough time within the important and urgent rest of the curriculum!
I could think of many many more challenges, but as I do not want to make this post too long, I will wait until the next blogpost to share the advances and thoughts that come up.