Thursday, October 29, 2015

Confession #6: Lessons Learned as a Shark

Last spring I had the privilege of serving as a shark for an intermediate Pay It Forward Project. Students read the novel, Pay it Forward, in class. As a part of the novel study, each student or group of students presented an idea that would change the world or their community. The idea had to have a societal or environmental benefit. The requirements were as follows: 
  • Students wrote a research paper over their idea, citing facts to prove the problem exists and the feasibility of their solution. 
  • Students wrote a persuasive letter to a company to adopt or fund their idea or the legislature to consider a bill supporting their idea.
Sharks listened to the students’ presentations and scored them according to the rubric provided. Students scoring enough points on the rubric were able to send their letters. Those not scoring the required points were given feedback and an opportunity to modify and resubmit their letters to the teacher for approval to send.

Here are just a few lessons I learned from my day as a shark.
  1. Students want their voice to be heard.
    • By nature students want to have their opinions and thoughts heard. As I watched each student presentation, I was very impressed with the ability to articulate their findings. It was evident that they took pride in their findings. 
  2. Students want to make a difference.
    • No words can describe the joy I felt as I listened to these presentations. Each student was very passionate about how their idea would affect their community or the world. I listened to a presentation on water preservation, gamification in the classroom for learning and fossil fuels to aid energy. Later I heard of a student presentation that enlisted hospitals to team with animal shelters in efforts to help patients recover. 
  3. Students enjoy "research" when they are allowed to choose the topic of study. 
    • Inquisitive minds want to know. In today's society students have the opportunity to learn with the touch of their smart phones, tablets or computers. Google can find anything. (haha). All of us come with the desire to know more about the things that interest us. I was thrilled to see this teacher use research in such a way that students were eager to know more. 
All of these lessons lead to one thought..."Empowering students can be addicting and lead to higher expectations." When students curiosity is cured with problem solving, this leads them to empowerment. I think this quote says it all...

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