Wednesday, May 22, 2013

the research project

Ever since FCAT finished, the students at Jackson have been working on this "cross-curricular" research project.  Every student is required to pick a controversial topic, research the topic, write a paper and present it in front of their classmates.  It didn't really end up being cross-curricular, except that they were allowed to work on it in all of their classes.  This might not seem like that big of a deal for most people, but these kids have never done anything close to it.  When it was rolled out to them, the reactions were priceless.  Papers were thrown everywhere, people were moaning like they were in physical pain, and the looks of disbelief were unreal.

Fast forward three weeks and times have changed.  Most students are extremely excited about their topics.  Since they got to choose their own topics, they've been really into composing their argument which is so fun to see.  One of my girls is doing a paper on whether natural or hospital birth is better for women.  A lot of the boys are doing whether or not college athletes should get paid. Their papers are definitely not the most articulate or scholarly, but it's been a really good experience for them.  If they do this paper every year, I'm hopeful that by the  time the freshmen graduate, they'll have some awesome research. Plus, they'll be able to really develop a strong argument, which is a definite struggle for them right now.

One of my students, Jazmin, has been a rockstar this week with her project.  Jazmin has a little bit of an attendance problem. And by a little, I mean, she missed 12 days in the third nine weeks, so not really that little.  It's only gotten worse after FCAT, so when she showed up this week, she didn't even have a topic chosen for her research project. I was freaking out for her, but she was cool as a cucumber.  She chose to write about how hip hop influences the black community. By Tuesday, she had found sources and done her note cards.  We worked for an hour in class on her outline and the finished it after school.  She wrote her rough draft today and gave it to me to edit.  When I gave it to her after school, she was like "I know what I'm doing right when I get home."  After working with her yesterday after school, I felt so good. She had worked for over two hours on just part of her outline and it was REALLY GOOD.  Better yet, she was really excited about her paper and the whole project. I'm really proud of her for not getting overwhelmed or frustrated by this project.  Most other students would have just given up, but she really tried and she's going to pull it off.  It's awesome.