Right now, most of us have hit the pause button.
That’s what the holidays often feel like for me as a school teacher. Of course it’s a time of rest and recuperation. Yet, things do stay on hold, frozen, until the term starts up again. You prepare things in the background and it all waits in the wings but you don’t really know how it’s going to go until the term starts. You might get a feeling…then we all hit the ground running.
I think about my Year 12 students who have this 5 week…hmm…gift? void? procrastination period?…to get some work done on their Individual Project. It’s a long block of time and a potentially beneficial one, particularly for those little cherubs who may in fact be quite behind (i.e. haven’t started) or decided in the second last week before Christmas that changing their whole project now was a good idea. Better now than later I always say.
I say that because something I’ve learnt as a teacher is that our students genuinely have no concept of time. Of what it feels like to really have lots of it! To be able to use it!
The IP is a tricky project to manage because time is not actually allocated to part of the syllabus so it, more often than not, takes up a lot of a teachers spare time.
I haven’t really written much about the Individual Project so I thought I’d share a little strategy that has worked for me over the last few years that keeps kids on track throughout the term and gives them something to work towards in the holidays.
It’s quite a specific checklist of what they must complete and include in their logbook. They are marked on what they have completed and to what depth as part of their progress mark across three terms.
I like it for a couple of reasons:
- It gives the students clear expectations, accountability and direction;
- It gives me clear direction and helps me re-emphasise my expectations to the class;
- It is a transparent, consistent way to assess progress across all the projects;
- It promotes success because most of the activities students should be able to do.
I believe strongly that the HSC should not be a guessing game. Make clear exactly what you want from your students. Promote success and achievement. It is our kids who are on struggle street, who couldn’t find their timetable in their bag if they tried that I think most need explicit support structures. I know it can be hard as a new teachers to know how specific to be and what exactly you should be asking for so hopefully this may help.
Just remember. Break. It. Down. Be prescriptive. Be overly prescriptive and then cut back from there if you need to.
I start with a common checklist in Term 1 of Year 12 that everyone must complete and then break off into project specific checklists in Terms 1 & 2. I will share those in a separate post. I’ve written the list below as though I’m talking to my students. I’ll make side notes in italics.
TITLE PAGE – Include your Student No., Project, Project Title (if applicable), Text Choice.
INSPIRATIONS PAGE – A double page spread of visual ideas of things you would like to do as part of your project. What movies, books, images inspire you?
IP CONTRACT – Stuck on the inside cover of your book. Ensure it is signed by your teacher. The student makes an agreement with themselves and me as to what they want to achieve with this project. I give them some time to think about this because often they have to get into the groove of the project first.
PROJECT STATEMENT/INITIAL LOGBOOK ENTRY – A short explanation of how you came to the decision to do the project you have chosen, what you are aiming to achieve and why. Focus on the decisions you have made. I give my students a scaffold to support them in writing this and this is the part I focus on in their progress assessment. I will write a post about this in future.
LOGBOOK CHECKLIST – Stick this in and tick it off when done. Date and sign when each item is done.
PROJECT REQUIREMENTS – Photocopy and stick in the requirements for your project from the HSC Assessment handbook you were given. If doing a project, stick in the text list. I make a text list summary with brief synopsis to give kids a bit of an idea as to what each play is about and I also photocopy the actual syllabus and refer back to it constantly.
CONSULTATION SCHEDULE – I use my timetable and match my free periods to that of my students to meet individually with them for about 15 minutes each week. If necessary I see them before or after school or during lunch time. Each student gets a copy of the consult schedule and I also stick it up in the classroom. Another suggestion that I was given was to allocate one afternoon only to the IP and students come and go within that time period to present what they have done so far. Remember, there is no class time allocated to the IP by the syllabus. Stick this in and ensure you are committing to your meeting time each week. I then keep a record of what was discussed in my own logbook. There is a template that is downloadable from Schools Online. After each consultation you should write a logbook entry. Date everything.
BEGIN TO READ PLAYS – If doing a project, choose three off the list and read them. Ask yourself, is this text going to allow me to complete my project to the best of my ability and show off my skills in this area? Some texts lend themselves to certain projects more than others. After each reading write a logbook entry. Date it. Find some background information on each play and stick it in. If you get ideas, draw them or write them down. It doesn’t have to be long but write something!
WHAT ARE YOUR ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES – What is the pre-production, production and post-production responsibilities of your particular project? How does an actor prepare for a role? Where should a scriptwriter start? You can use your notes from Yr 11 or the attached book list. I have a couple of books that specifically focus on this that I direct kids to find, borrow and photocopy from.
DECIDE ON YOUR PLAY (if doing a project) – This is to be done no later than Week 10, Term 4. Performers should have a selection of 4-5 monologues they are considering performing.
RESEARCH – Find information on the following:
• The playwright
• The play
• The issues, ideas, themes in the play
• Examples/clips from previous productions.
• Poster/Promotion people you will need to choose a theatre company also.
Stick all of this in your logbook and date it. Write a logbook entry about anything that stood out to you. If reading this gives you ideas or inspiration, stick these in, draw them and make a note of how they link to the text.
LOGBOOK CHECK – This will be in Week 7, 9 and 10. We will have a group feedback session at the beginning of our Friday lesson in this week to tell each other what we have been doing.
LOOK AT EXAMPLES OF OLD PROJECTS & LOGBOOKS – Keep a selection of past projects and examples. I collect programs and posters when I go to the theatre and a lot of the mail the gets sent to the schools about shows I also keep. Write a logbook entry about what they’ve seen. Date it. Start collecting other examples of work.
What do you do to manage the Individual Project? Share your thoughts in the comments below.