March 24

#SOL22 #24

I just finished evaluating seven history fair documentary projects created by middle school students. I am constantly challenged in my quest to perfect the art of Ron Berger’s model of “kind, specific, helpful” feedback. These young students have been challenged to create a project which argues a thesis. They work within the National History Day framework to conduct research, develop an argument, and assemble their analysis into a persuasive form, in this case a documentary video. They are also required to create an annotated bibliography of their sources.

This is tough work, demanding well-developed higher-order thinking skills to be able to sift through numerous sources, make sense of them, and synthesize that bombardment of information into a coherent narrative. And then combine evidence in the form of visual elements (photographic images, newspaper clippings, maps, political cartoons, etc.) with an audio narration, and oftentimes a layer of background music.

So, when the “experienced adult” part of me wants to pull my hair out with the inaccuracies, omissions, or incomplete thinking, I need to take a step back and put myself in their 12- or 13-year-old shoes and simply say, “my hat’s off to you for a job well done.”

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Posted March 24, 2022 by inspirepassion in category National History Day, PBL, SOL22

About the Author

I am a process-focused leader who uses collaboration, authenticity, and mentoring as key skills to inspire passion among learners of all ages. Aggregate eclectic professional experiences have honed my ability to coach others in designing and implementing courses of study using inquiry-/project-based learning (PBL).

8 thoughts on “#SOL22 #24

  1. Brian Rozinsky

    Nobody said the kind, specific, and helpful track would be easy, but starting with complimenting parts of the job done well sounds like a sturdy cornerstone on which you can build.

  2. Amanda Potts

    Yes, yes, yes to the positive response despite their mistakes. This is such an important thing. I love how you introduce the layers of work that the kids have to do before you talk about their inaccuracies – and then you end on a positive note. This structure alone says an awful lot about how you support them.

    1. inspirepassion (Post author)

      Thank you, Amanda. I DO think all student work has elements of gold, and that it is important to recognize that.

  3. Carol Wilcox

    I love my sixth graders and we have done some really interesting stuff this year, but holy cow, this project sounds HUGE!!!SO MANY LAYERS! I can’t imagine trying to pull off the research AND the visual design. I think your response is absolutely perfect!

    1. inspirepassion (Post author)

      Thank you, Carol! Middle school is SUCH an awkward, yet thrilling stage. With a little nudging, they can accomplish so much.


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