Having completed a group project with the top two year 9 English classes, their reaction to challenging tasks was interesting and worrying. We presented students with some challenging poems, the chosen poems were deliberately challenging as these students are used to predominantly mixed ability classes and therefore are often not extended in their learning. Their reactions? Many students were quick to throw their hands up in the air telling us they ‘didn’t get it’. Others had no idea as to how to begin research and look at the key areas of the task. Their lack of perseverance in research and indeed their lack of analysing their research findings did worry me. It is clear from this that I need to do a lot more work in the area of research skills and the critical reception of information. I am desperately trying to establish life long skills in students (a concept very important to me) but it is clear that more work needs to be done.
I have now finished the RBL project with my year 9 class and feel that it is important to reflect on the outcome. First, the successes: students did learn more about their assigned poems and from student feedback most really enjoyed working in groups and thought that learning google documents was a very useful IT skill to assist them in completing the task at home and will also assist them in completing future group tasks in almost any subjects.
The areas in need of improvement? I think that we needed to break the task down into smaller component parts and be more specific in assigning roles to group members. I wanted to provide students with an overview and marking criteria at the start of the task, however, this was not possible due to the uncertainty of exams, students absences and yes lack of collaborative time.
Overall, I enjoyed the task as did most students, however, I have learnt a lot and will make some changes next time.