Teachers in Context|
Guidelines for the Final Group Project:
The Contexts of Teaching
For this assignment, you will work in a group of five or six classmates to explore a specific scenario related to teaching and consider how the contexts of teaching come into play in that scenario. Your group will be asked to solve a problem that reflects a controversy or ongoing issue in education. In trying to solve this problem, your group's primary task will be to answer the question,
How do the various contexts of teaching help us understand and negotiate this specific situation?
The main purpose of this assignment is to examine how various factors influence teaching and shape our understanding of teachers and schools. A secondary purpose is to provide experience in collaborative inquiry into relevant professional issues affecting teaching.
Your group will devote much of the second half of the semester to this project.
Your group will be assigned its scenario in class during the 4th week of the semester. (Scenarios will also be available online after Week 5 at this link: Final Group Project Scenarios.) Scenarios will be related to important issues or controversies in education such as standardized testing and diversity.
Drawing on a variety of resources, including course readings and assignments, your group will explore its assigned scenario and try to develop a reasonable solution to the problem that emerges from that scenario. In doing so, your group will analyze the role of various factors in that scenario to try to come to a better understanding of what is involved and how to address the problem. In exploring your assigned scenario, your group will pose the following questions:
Your group's scenario will present you with a specific problem to address and ask that you make recommendations for how to solve that problem. Your group's solution to the problem should be informed by your analysis of the contextual factors that come into play in your scenario. (More information about the specific nature of the group tasks is available at Final Group Project Scenarios.)
There are three main components to this assignment:
Each component is described in more detail below.
Collaborative Paper/Document. Your group's paper/document should present the results of your collective inquiry into the specific scenario you examined and how contextual factors played a role in that scenario. It should explain your solution to the problem presented by your scenario and justify your solution based on what you have learned about your specific issue or problem as a result of your group's research. In your paper/document, you should also draw conclusions about what it means to be a teacher in view of what your group learned about the role of context in teaching.
Your paper/document should include references to course readings and related assignments as well as to any other relevant and appropriate resources that your group identifies in its research. You may incorporate into this project any of the course assignments you have worked on during the semester.
The format of this component of your final project is up to your group. You may decide to submit a conventional paper of 1200-1500 words; you may decide to submit a multi-genre paper or some other alternative kind of document; you may decide to construct a website, hypertext, or multi-media presentation. The only requirement is that the nature of the document your group chooses to create should be appropriate to your inquiry and should be the equivalent of a 1200-1500 word paper.
Please note that, whatever format you choose, your final project must include the document described in your group's scenario. For example, if your scenario defines your group as a school-wide committee whose task is to submit a recommendation to the school board, your final project must include this recommendation in some form.
In-Class Presentation/Performance. This component of the final project should be a substantive, engaging, and creative presentation or performance to the class in which you convey the results of your group's inquiry into the scenario your group examined. The specific format or nature of this presentation is up to your group. You should think creatively and don't be afraid to be innovative or unconventional. Use of participatory activities, multi-media, visual aids, and musical or physical performance is encouraged. Humor and enjoyment are also encouraged. Please keep in mind that the purpose of this presentation/performance is to effectively convey to your classmates what your group learned as a result of its inquiry. In effect, your group will be teaching the rest of the class about the educational issues relevant to its scenario.
Expect to use approximately 25-30 minutes for your presentation/performance. Be sure to consult with your instructors about any necessary technologies you may need for your group's presentation/performance.
Presentations will be scheduled for the final two class meetings of the semester.
Individual Written Reflection. For this part of the assignment, each student will submit a written reflection on the group project. In this reflection, you should offer your own thoughts about what you learned as a result of your group's inquiry into its assigned scenario. You should also offer an evaluation of your group's work and your own role and participation in that work. This written reflection should be 500-750 words in length.
Project groups and scenarios will be assigned in class during the fifth week of the semester. Your group should begin work on the project as soon as possible after receiving its assigned topic.
Groups will be given class time to work on this project during most class meetings after the 5th week of the semester, but you should expect to meet outside of class to complete the project.
Key deadlines for this project are as follows:
Please see the Guidelines for the Interim Report that is due on October 29th.
This assignment is worth 30 points. Your group project will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
Please note that because each student will submit an individual written reflection as a required part of this assignment, grades for all group members may not be the same for this assignment.