Research Seminar: Part II – In the Zone

Seven tired seniors made their way into my classroom this Monday morning. After exchanging greetings, then some information they had come across related to each other’s topics, they set down to work silently on their projects. As I look around the room, each one is working. One student just burst into laughter as she found something amusing in the documentary she is watching about the history of hip hop but that creates very minimal disruption.

At the beginning of class, a few students shared with me what they had learned since our last class. One girl began class by telling me that she had gotten to the bottom of a quotation that she had not previously understood which drew an analogy between slavery and hip hop.  Another student shared that he wanted to go beyond the iconic black athletes to examine the issue of black management and ownership in professional sports. Neither exchange was prompted by me asking them anything. In fact, my role today has been passive.

Last week, about half of the students did short presentations detailing where they were in their research. The class listened, watched and then asked questions or made suggestions about directions for further research. We also took the time Thursday to begin to create a rubric for the projects. The students focused on sources, content, and presentation in creating a standard against which they want to be judged. I had expected that we would continue with presentations today, but the class decided that they really wanted to work on their own research and that we should continue with presentations when we meet tomorrow.

With each iteration of their research questions, I find them digging deeper into important issues. I still have do not know where they will end up, but I am glad that they have the opportunity to take this journey. I am equally grateful to be along for the ride.


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