photo © 2010 Justin See (coming back) | more info (via: Wylio)I don’t even know how to begin this today. Today was one of those days that I love about teaching and as always it had nothing to do with it, except as the witness. What really made today was my receipt of a project by a student, and the result was totally unexpected. The assignment was very simple, answer a question about globalization, but do so without using too much text. Something which had a visual impact as opposed to something written out. I am working with a group of grade 10 students that are ‘non-academic’ in our system and they have a whole variety of problems, not the least of which, for some, are literacy problems. I hoped it would be more productive to get something which de-emphasized the writing process. Indeed it seems that for those students who have been to class regularly (another issue), it seems that production is moving along, although in some cases haltingly. This afternoon, however, a student walked up and slapped down a DVD with what he’d worked on at home. I was more than a little surprised when I opened up the file (created with iMovie) to find an absolutely stunning answer to my question, a superb piece of work, something that would have impressed me had I received it from a student in the ‘highest’ academic-level class. He answered the question beautifully, personally and with care. I was gobsmacked!
photo © 2009 Richard Allaway | more info (via: Wylio)Then I began to think about why this student had been placed in that level of a class. How could someone who so clearly understood context and content wind up in that particular class. Apparently it was a recommendation based on a test, and indeed the student in question is a recent immigrant. He obviously struggles with writing, but his comprehension, based on this and a couple of other small projects he did for me, is far ahead of his ability to write and probably to do multiple-choice exams. Apparently that’s the only way he’s been measured, and it was probably only on one day as well. I keep on thinking about Sir Ken Robinson’s talk about ‘Shifting Education Paradigms.’ All I can think of is the fact that I have a very creative student and fairly bright student who has been placed in this group based only on a couple of test scores. Seems to me like Sir Ken’s statement about putting students together based on nothing more than when they were born.
In the end what I have is a fantastic example of what can be done when students are allowed to show that they understand through methods other than just writing or doing a multiple choice exam. It will also be an example of what you can do with a bit of creativity, and make it look astounding.