Motivated by a conversation I recently had with a middle school social studies teacher…
This middle school social studies class is doing some fairly sizeable and complex projects (the normal stuff when you think about social studies projects: researching empires, finding historical artifacts, presenting about impactful figures, etc.). The projects tend to occupy the space of 1-3 weeks.
Track student tasks and status of tasks
Log interactions with group members (in and out of class)
Track communication with external entities (experts, parents, community members, etc.)
Generally unmotivated students (think: 7th grade…) with track record of cutting corners and being lazy
Uncertainty about progress until the end
Many steps in projects that often result in confusion (who is doing what, when are they doing it, etc.)
As I met with the teacher in question, we deliberated over several possible solutions. Here is the primary option he will implement:
Use a shared Google Sheet for each group that includes a Task Log and a Communication Log for accountability, clarity, and progress tracking.
Here is the simple Sheet we developed for this purpose (nothing crazy here!):
The teacher’s plan is to have students update their task log as needed, check in with group members at least Mon/Wed/Fri (might be daily), log all activity outside of class (his intent is for this to be completed in class, but if needed…), and use Sheet in conferences with teacher to prove process and progress.
One way to elevate this solution further…
Have students use a project management tool (like my favorite: Trello) for a more comprehensive task management process as well as a more easily contained digital work environment (everything can happen in one place: communication with each other, sharing of resources and information, assigning of tasks and deadlines, documentation of process).