Following from my initial project run at the beginning of last term, I instigated changes. My contention can be found in the Gifted and Talented provision written in a previous post – that project work risks a focus on doing stuff, rather than learning concepts. By ‘learning concepts’ I mean that students are able to adjust their own frameworks of manipulating language beyond the remit of the project.
Therefore, I have made one significant change to my project lessons: students need to find the text, analyse it, and create a similar text, all the while using a particular focus on a technique.
It is only then that students seek to investigate a representation of that technique in a concept outside of language (i.e. the technique of sentence length variance being explored through the principle of eye-colour composition and the solidity of irises). This is part of the ‘engaging’ aspect of the project that makes students receptive to the concepts because they (ideally) work with them in a way meaningful to them.
After this stage, the students are required to reanalyse the original text, and to edit their initial creation, with the principle of the technique in mind. In doing this, students ideally:
a) Produce better work according to their personalised rubric booklets.
b) Develop lasting conceptual changes to how they approach analysing and writing using that specific technique.
At the moment, like with all such endeavours, the students and I are working with an hour a week: in doing so, we are monitoring what we are doing in order to find the balance between scaffolding and creativity. So far, so good.
The one additional piece of advice I would give those following, at this stage, is that text books are great sources for texts. A number of students are able and willing to find their own texts, but being able to provide a choice of quality texts via text books is a game-changer for such projects. I am copying the texts chosen by students into A5 booklets so they might be analysed effectively using our usual annotation techniques.