Well, today in one of my classes I gave time for my students to work on their year-long research projects. I have set aside about 10 classes over the year for this. Each class represents a different step in the research process, and at the end of each class, there is something for them to hand in. For example, today was step 3: writing a reserach question. They had to do an exercise that would help them come up with their research question, so I am expecting to see some in my inbox shortly. This helps them in at least two ways:
- they won't end up doing their project all at the last minute
- they are learning how to do a research project.
Everything went great, it's just that I realized one setback to doing this kind of "classwork" in the virtual classroom. Today, I really wanted to see what they were doing. Actually, what I wanted was to see them doing what they were doing.
Not because I wanted to check up on them - these kids are really motivated. It's because I could tell by the private texts they were sending me that they were finding some really interesting stuff for their projects. Abigail asked if she could use a video in her project even if it wasn't hers, because "it's just so awesome!" That one word - awesome - is what made me really want to be there. I needed to see my students being engaged, having success, and having fun! You just don't get that in the virtual classroom.
I guess teachers are human too, and we need some kind of positive feedback. But I'm not talking about getting praise. I mean seeing the looks on their faces when the light goes on, or the excitement sets in, or when the opposite happens, when despair takes hold.
So I've got to find a way to have "classwork" in a virtual classroom wherein I can see their faces and/or their work and/or know firsthand how they're feeling. Hmmmm.
Any ideas out there?