The first few moments of giving directions for a project or any creative assignment are critical. Getting students attention and building their interest is an art. I asked Tweedle Dee to describe how some of her teachers introduce projects.
“Well, first (she) stands up in the front of the room and says, ‘We are going to start a project‘ and then she passes out a paper about it…”
::::::::insert sigh here:::::::
“Then….she reads the entire paper to us….”
:::::::::insert double sigh::::::::
It’s funny, because I knew this is exactly what Tweedle Dee would say. And Tweedle Dee likes school and loves projects. Some days she even wants to be a teacher when she grows up. We talked about some variations of this with her other teachers, but none of them really razzle-dazzle her with their project kick-offs.
This is probably all too common.
Here are the beginning directions for an 8th grade fairy tale writing project. This handout is passed out while the teacher reads the directions. (And picture this familiar scene: one student is playing keep-away, another is getting irritated, one student is picking up a dropped stack of papers, one student is trying to figure out which side of the handout is the front, and the last two rows came up short but no one says anything for at least 15 minutes.)
I am not saying that a handout or check sheet is bad. It is, in fact, usually necessary. Students need to have a hard copy of the expectations for future reference. (This check sheet is how this particular teacher grades the papers vs. a rubric.)
While these directions are enough for some students, the modified version I created for our inclusion class provides a more concrete explanation of their options.
If students can picture what they are being asked to do they may be more excited about doing it.
This is the first page of our SMART Notebook file:
And now, sit back and relax and laugh at a “fractured fairy tale” I think you will enjoy. Our kick-off to the assignment – a quick video clip to really grab their attention.