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Showcasing the Struggle

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Showcasing the Struggle

This one comes from a middle school math intervention teacher. In an effort to give students something interesting to showcase at their end-of-year event, she conjured a fascinating activity that ended up inspiring an even greater endeavor.

Here’s the story.

Something Different

The intervention teachers (math and ELA) in this particular middle school do a showcase event at the end of the year to capture and demonstrate the great things their students accomplished. It’s a classic celebration of learning that generally produces a healthy buzz and excitement for their students in the May drudgery of testing and summer fever.

Mrs. A knew the language arts teachers had something special planned and was feeling the pressure. The problem was that she didn’t have any ideas. She wanted something dynamic, perhaps multimedia, that her students could create in a few days. She wanted it to be something real about the students’ experiences in her class but not just another presentation with slides talking about things they learned.

That’s when the idea struck!

The Struggle is Real

Naturally, the most rewarding academic experience is that of successfully overcoming some kind of struggle or challenge. Mrs. A realized that given her clientele, struggle was one of the likeliest constants. And her expertise was helping them overcome it.

In a heartbeat, she decided that was the object of success she wanted her students to be able to showcase. The challenge, then, was how best to capture the struggle and prove the ability to overcome it.

The Role of Technology

In a creative flourish of app-smashing and tech wizardy, Mrs. A conjured a process students could leverage to achieve the intended outcome. Here’s what they did:

Capture the concept

Using Awwapp, students illustrated a mathematical concept that challenged them at some point during the year by writing out a problem and demonstrating an idea. While doing that, they used Screencastify to record the entire process while explaining aloud both the concept and their difficulties with it.

Post the artifact

Using the new version of Google Sites, they posted the video of the concept and any additional images that they created or found to connect to the concept.

Reflect on the ideas

Leveraging the power of Google Sites further, students added text, additional videos or images, or a number of other resources (Google Docs, Slides, etc.) to further reflect on the success they found in overcoming the struggle.

The End Result

Mrs. A and her students produced some of the most compelling artifacts ever showcased by her intervention classes largely because of the ownership students took in the process and the excitement around proving their ability to overcome a struggle.

It was incredible and inspiring and even included an unintended consequence: the artifact produced (Google Site) was easily shareable with any audience, so parents or other teachers who were not present at the showcase or were not able to see everything desired were able to access the artifacts as directed by Mrs. A or the individual students.

What is more, Mrs. A was so impressed by the efforts of her students and the power of the tools and strategies employed, that she decided to scale the activity to more of a year-long reflection journal kind of process.

Just imagine what that showcase will be like next year!


As you know, my team is devoted to supporting teachers as they pursue their goals in teaching in learning. And you can connect with us, too, wherever you are located. Check out our Virtual Coaching service or visit our resources and services page for a snapshot of everything we do for teaching and learning.

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Zach Ripley

Author Since: May 31, 2017

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