Friday, January 10, 2014

The Suck and #20time in My Class

I absolutely stole the concept of The Suck from Jon Corippo. Essentially, The Suck talks about productivity on longer term projects. When group projects start, productivity is high. Planning and delegation happens. And then productivity decreases. The deadline is far off and the urgency to get work done - no matter the size of the task - drops. That’s The Suck: this drop in productivity.

#ObiWanCorippo has a couple solutions to The Suck. First, you’ve got to label it. Kids need to know what The Suck is. The need to be able to recognize when they get stuck in The Suck. I’ve seen the power in labeling The Suck this year: students use it in class to call themselves or their groups out for unproductive times.

Another tack that Jon suggests is creating a deadline that doesn’t allow for The Suck. Give kids big tasks with quick deadlines and give them lots of repetitions on the task. They get better at the task and they don’t have time to waste because of the imminent deadline.

I’ve messed with both of these and seen success. As always, Corippo knows things…

So. #20time. True to the nature of The Suck, my kids were super productive at the beginning of their work on their year-long #20time projects, which we work on every Friday in my class. However, as last semester wore on - and the project wasn’t due to be completed until the end of the school year - groups started to fall into The Suck. The deadline was too far away. Daily reflections about what students accomplished in class weren’t defeating The Suck.

Just to be clear, there were significant portions of all my classes that had been very productive with their #20time. But this wasn’t the case with all students.

I needed to intervene.

Time to think. And regroup. That’s what winter break is for, right?

Doctopus: The Document Octopus!
So today, the battle against The Suck commenced in earnest. I used Doctopus to push this document to all my students. After consulting their year long #20time schedules that students created in September and reflecting on where they were and what they needed to accomplish by the end of April (when this project concludes), students created their own rubric to assess themselves on what they could accomplish in January. They will reflect at the end of each Friday #20time period on what they got done, then assess themselves on the rubric that they created at the end of the month.

(No, I’m not grading them based on where they place themselves on the rubric. Just on if they complete the reflection.)

I am hopeful that by making students divide up their remaining #20time into four month-long sections and by having them name what they will accomplish in each month, a sense of urgency will be created. And The Suck will die.

Time will tell. The battle against The Suck in #20time has begun though!