Whew! Coming up for air temporarily ... won't go into all the details because I'm sure everyone else either is or has been in the same place. I just got back from a PLTW training in Dallas that was awesome, and I learned so much.
One great side note about this is how one teacher handled students working in groups. You know how there's always "group issues": someone slacks or someone bosses everyone else around or friends always want to work together or whatever. Here are some tips from one teacher:
* During the year on his various group projects, the rule he mentions to the kids at the start of the year and as a reminder throughout the year is that you can never work in a group with the same person twice.
* He hands out a team management sheet that the kids have to maintain (online?) it has columns for task that needs to be done, who's responsible, target due date, completion date, comments. If the "responsible" person doesn't do their job, his/her name is scratched out and the "doer's" name is put there. That way there's a record of what/who.
* The teacher mentions that he should be cc'ed on all e-mails, so this way he can address various issues and kids as the project gets done as opposed to hearing at the end that so and so didn't pull their weight or so and so overwhelmed everyone else.
I liked his approach, and I'll try it next time, and institute it more next year. There was also this PHENOMENAL "cardboard chair" project for IED he mentioned. The kids actually go through this 9 week project and all aspects of polling people, making mock ups, doing the statistical analysis of body measurements, etc. to build this functional chair out of cardboard that should hold up to 200 lbs and weigh no more than 16 lbs. COOL! Hopefully, I'll get my act together this year to try it out.
There was also some great information on how to make short "desk top" videos to provide instruction for your kids (don't have my notes with me). That way, for the things you say 2000 times, or for the kids that are absent or for the kids that have to hear things again, you/they have this resource.