Monday, January 14, 2008

Frustrations in Radioland

My 2.0 tools are running into Beta problems.
Currently, my tenth graders are working on creating podcasts in the vein of "This American Life" by interviewing and recounting the stories of people they may or may not know around the theme of sacrifice. This all ties back to the plight of Janie from Zora Neal Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God.
We spent days listening to stories and watching some superb material from Current posted on Youtube where Ira Glass explains storytelling. We deconstructed, timelines were created, and now...
A handful of students are creating some superb content. The majority look at me in class as though I'm completely unreasonable not lower my expectations.
The thing is, my frustration comes from my inability to take them any further in the process. At some point, I have to say, "That's all the scaffolding I can provide." My frustration comes from giving them all the tools I can to help them succeed and then having to step back. My frustration comes from realizing I can't actually do the work for them and achieve the ultimate goal.
Many of my students have decided their success depends on an external locus of control. Mainly, this happens when they come to the portion where they must edit the material they've collected. As much as I warned, (and it often included much failing about whilst speaking) many of the students approached editing as though it were an afterthought. This is not at all unlike their approach to editing in the writing process. Unfortunately they come to the rather stark realization that this whole process takes supreme amounts of focus. At that point, any number of reasons are batted about as to why they cannot complete the project.
One class' audio is due tomorrow. I'm not sure what to expect.
The question that circles in my head is what can be done? This is not a new problem - for me or any educator. And so, here's the point of reflection, what's to be done?
If nothing else, the situation is a lovely example of the fact it's not the tools that get kids to succeed.
And then...
As I finished typing the last sentence a student walked in to ask where he needed to return the Snowball mic he had been using. The student had been working for two-and-a-half hours to translate an interview he'd done with his father about the decision to move his family from Bangladesh 5 years ago and the effect it had on the student.
Mind you, this is a student I've seen limited academic work from thus far, mainly because the academic vocabulary develops so much more slowly than the conversational vocabulary. He's here, two-and-a-half hours after school ended. That's never happened with a traditional writing assignment.
Maybe I'm not doing everything right, but maybe I'm doing something right.
More later.

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