Have you seen this video? You should. It was posted by a man who goes by the handle of Prince Ea. He's pretty talented, I'll give him that. A number of people obviously put a lot of time, thought, effort, and, of course, money into this video. Having said all that, this video drives me nuts. I told the Prince Ea as much in a comment that I left him. Given that very few people will ever read that comment, I decided I would post it again here. (See below.)
My Post to Prince Ea's Video, left on June 2, 2018:
So your evidence is a picture of a classroom from today and a picture of a classroom from 150 years ago? That's it? That's what you've got? I have taught for 27 years, and in that time I have taught law. I can tell you that your evidence lacks relevance. Why don't you compare a hammer from today to a hammer from 150 years ago? Many things don't change, and, in fact, many things get worse over time. Beyond that, why don't you provide an honest picture of a classroom from today? Classrooms are changing. (See mine here: https://twitter.com/ArtLightstone/status/639931512985624576) Teaching approaches are changing, and they've been changing for a long time. (See more about my teaching approaches here: http://www.newlearnerlab.com/)
Forgive me if I might seem sensitive, but this bologna that gets pandered about in the media about how stubborn, lazy, and rigid teachers are drives me crazy. In fact, let me put the question to you: Why do you think teachers are stubborn, rigid, and resistant to change? What's your theory? Do you suppose it's nature or nurture? Do only rigid people get into teaching? Or maybe teaching turns people rigid? Sounds pretty crazy when I put it like that, doesn't it. You know why it sounds crazy? Because it is crazy.
Teachers aren't rigid at all. In fact, surviving in the teaching profession takes more flexibility, innovation, and creativity than anything I can think of. Teachers start to develop a notion of what works in the classroom (and what doesn't work) almost immediately. They don't just change their approaches from year to year, they change them from unit to unit... even from day to day.
All we want to do is prepare students to successfully navigate their way in the world and hopefully make a positive contribution to society. It's hard work... and what's the thanks we get? We get people who, it would appear, like to blame teachers for their own challenges - even their own shortcomings, and we get to constantly hear baseless stereotypes and inflammatory malarkey like this.
Enjoy all your hits on this video. I guess that's how we measure success these days.
Overview of the Escape Room Project:
If you're looking for a fun, challenging, and valid culminating project for virtually any course, then an escape room style experience is a great option to consider.
Such a project would involve designing an escape experience where the various elements within the escape room would require a firm knowledge of the units in a course. For example, in my Grade 12 economics course, I make sure that there is at least five elements made for each escape room: one element for each of our units. I do the exact same thing in Grade 12 Law.
This is a great project for students to either work on by themselves, in partners, or even in small groups. Either way, students are challenged to both design and produce an escape room style experience. Teachers can change the requirements for each student depending on the size of the groups that they'll allow. For example, you could require that each student designs a certain number of elements themselves, and work cooperatively on a another prescribed number of elements. I tend to make my escape room worth 10% of the overall course grade, while also having an exam that is worth 20%. However, teachers could certainly adjust that weighting to suit their course and the size of their escape room project.
Advantages of the Project:
The escape room project has a lot of appealing features, including the fact that:
i) it forces students to dig into material from the course in order to design elements of the escape room. Obviously, this serves as great review.
ii) it requires students to know material from the course in order to design or play the escape room. (It's not one of those culminating projects that anyone could do without actually knowing anything about the course material.)
iii) it activates imagination, creativity, problem-solving, and collaboration. All highly valued goals in education, today.
You should make it clear to your students that you want to make sure that the elements of an escape room project do involve some creativity. In other words, you don't want to see a bunch of multiple choice quizzes where the correct answers produce the correct combination of a lock.
This project fits very nicely into the streamlined Global Studies Achievement Chart that I've made available in a previous post. However, if you would like to download a PDF rubric specifically developed for this project, you can do so from the link at the bottom of this article.
General Tips and Tricks for Making a Fun Escape Experience!
Here are a few general pieces of advice that I tend to give my students as they embark on this project.
The quality of our writing, especially in professional contexts, is actually quite important. The fact is, whenever we write, we always reveal two things about ourselves. Naturally, we communicate the explicit message that we are intending to write, but we also convey an implicit message: the story revealed by our writing ability.
Truth be told, writing ability is invariably associated with a host of other traits, such as one’s ability to think, to learn, and to communicate. Our ability to write, at any given age, reveals how much effort we have directed towards mastering our language up to that point in time. Poor writing reveals either a poor effort in learning one's language, or a poor effort in applying one’s ability toward a particular piece of writing. Either way, poor writing does not speak well of a person’s ability or attitude.
In poker terms, we could say that a person’s writing is a “tell.” Writing reveals something about ourselves that we may not intend, or even wish, to convey. Indeed, a writer’s skill will often belie their words. As uncomfortable as it may be to believe, we always stand to undermine even our best efforts if the quality of our writing indicates that we are perhaps less capable, less intelligent, or less responsible than our words might suggest.
The New Learner Lab
Exploring the ever-changing, often challenging, and always controversial world of teaching.