The Smartest Person in the Room is… the Room.

It’s about five minutes before my Modern World class starts. I feel like I’m taking a risk with today’s plan. I am having groups present their models of how to measure power in the world in the early modern era and today. None of the groups have really finished, and I think there are some problems with each of their models. I decided not to intervene, but to allow students to work through the problems and discover them. They will present drafts today, gather feedback, and then have another week to improve/complete the project.

Now – class has started. I gave them my schpiel about how they will all learn more if they help each other. They will have fifteen minutes to prepare to present their draft to the class. Each member of the class will be responsible for filling out a feedback sheet for each group. There are specific prompts about visual appeal, information, complexity, and then overall commendations and recommendations. They will sign their names to those sheets. I’ll make a copy for me and then distribute the feedback to the groups. I really want them to come together on this. I’ll finish the post later, after the presentations.

Later – class is over. The groups worked very hard to prep for the presentations. Then, each group presented. It took me a few extra minutes to round them up to get started, so we ended up running a little short on time. Still, they were each able to articulate their models well, and they shared their content. At the end, they could ask for help with what they recognized as challenges. There was definitely positive response from the audience. They made some great suggestions. I just read the feedback sheets and clear patterns emerge for each group.They took me seriously – noting the positive features of each, the aspects that didn’t work so well, and ways that the groups could move forward.

From my perspective, it worked well – except that we did not really have enough time. I should have expected them to be prepared when they got to class, instead of telling them they would have fifteen minutes at the beginning of class. We could have used all of the time constructively for presentations and comments. There is a lot of quality feedback on the sheets, although some students were a little too brief. We will work on that.

Next steps – they have next week to make adjustments and finish the projects before we display them. I will work with the groups to help facilitate the revisions. I was going to provide feedback sheets from me, but after reading through what the students wrote, I don’t have much to add. I will provide my thoughts as they are making changes.

All in all – I’m really happy with how it went. We are on our way to becoming a learning community.

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