As we finish up our Romeo & Juliet unit, I had some ideas of what we could do. Some smaller-scale type of Epic Romeo & Juliet Project? A test? An essay? Re-write and modernize some of the scenes? A debate? What do we do?
The thing is, we had a week left before the marking period ended. The snow and cold days we had earlier in the year were taking their toll on our schedule. While I hate using that as any sort of curriculum guideline, our quarters don’t lump together at the end of the year; they’re weighted equally. So if we learn something in one quarter, but get assessed on it (and graded on it) in another, it can have significant impact on their semester grade. In an unfair way. So we needed something, and we needed it quickly. Long-term projects were out. I needed a fair way to assess everyone in a relatively short amount of time.
So I asked the students.
First, I gave them a task: in pairs, come up with 3 assessments, and create a pros and cons list for each of them. From this, I made a sign-up sheet.
And they chose.
About half elected to go with a test. This is the safe option. They take tests of some sort in many of their courses, so they’re comfortable with the format. It’s a one-day thing, after a few days preparing in class.
My favorite part of all of this are the students who took this opportunity to stretch themselves. They could all take a test, certainly. They’d probably do just fine.
But where’s the fun in that? Where’s the exploration? So some students who don’t usually speak up: they’re going to debate if Romeo & Juliet is a tragedy or a love story. Using rules of formal debate. Others who don’t often challenge the norm are re-writing some of the major scenes as if it takes place in modern day. One of our foreign exchange students went home for the week, so she took advantage of the chance to write a paper.
And nobody — NOBODY — is complaining about any of the work they’re doing, no matter how much it is.
In a world heading more and more towards standardization of everything, I love choice.