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The pot on the left is typical of the production I get from individuals when I teach with a whole group approach. The rubric for the project states that the pot should be at least 6" tall and that it must contain at least one row of decorative coils. Despite my coaching, urging, cajoling, dancing and singing, and explaining the loss of points on the rubric, students looked around, saw other projects that were small and undistinguished, and this became the standard. They should be working harder than I am, right? I was the one exhausted by the end of the project.
Now, the pot on the right was produced in a small group and I would say it is typical of that group's work except that students working in that close unit felt more freedom to create their own style. In fact, it became a matter of pride. They challenged one another while supporting and critiquing. This small group used the same rubric as the whole group but felt liberated to push the limits rather than limit their production. Remember, these students chose this project. Choice motivated their work. Far from being exhausted by my efforts to drive them forward, I joined in and became a part of the team.
Is this typical of all my small group projects? No. Not yet. But this is the goal. The power of choice and small groups changed my teaching and, should I mention it? My teaching got a lot nimbler.
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