My students re-grouped this week to work on the school presentation. They rallied into four teams according to their interests: rap song, a skid, a short video, activity to engage the target audience (8th graders!)
I asked the class to use an IF-like process during this planning session, and designed a form to guide them. The form asked,
(a) what issues/concerns (about the value of college education) will your group address in its program segment?
(b) what approach will your group use in terms of organization?; and
(c) what constraints will your group face to implement this approach?
As soon as they started to work I realized my beautiful plans were a disaster! Forget about facilitation and note-taking, and deciding what concerns to address in the presentation. These freshmen jumped immediately into the production phase — writing a rap song, producing a skid, deciding sequences for the video shots! Forget about the weeks of discussion concerning “the public value of education” and the old summary reports I had asked them to bring printed. They went into production mode armed solely with their conventional wisdom! I spent so much time going from group to group clarifying what they were supposed to do that by the end of class I was exhausted and had no idea of what had been accomplished!
Since I am still struggling with how to integrate IF into the upcoming class sessions, I sent an email to the students after class informing them of my expectations. For our next class everyone has to identify an issue (related to prior discussions concerning the public value of education); do some research about that issue (so everyone contributes a “reliable” piece of information to the task); and then they will sit to discuss/create a better informed program segment, one that includes at least one contribution from everyone. Don’t ask me what will happen next time: your guess is as good as mine!