Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Copy-Paste Projects

"Are you here to watch our projects," asked one of my 7th grade students when I entered the classroom. The room was abuzz with the nervous energy of students required to make presentations that they have been working on for weeks.

Although I could stay and watch I could sense from both the Turkish teacher and several of the students that they would prefer that I not. They were both nervous. Taking the cues, I politely excused myself and joined a colleague for a cup of Turkish coffee and a friendly chat in the sun-filled snack room.

After the hour break I headed back to the 7th grade classroom. It was a double period and I had to be ready to cover in case the projects finished early. The nervous buzz had subsided a little and this time the Turkish teacher indicated that I should stay.

I settled in for the opportunity to watch some of my students presenting a project in their native language and a more comfortable environment. Watching the presentation was enlightening and I'm pretty sure I could guess the requirements:
1 Title Slide - 1 table of contents, 6 slides and a couple of pictures. And, I think I guessed the topic: Hybrid Cars.

The actual presentation consisted of two boys reading paragraphs of information that had been copied from the internet (probably Wikipedia) complete with bold hyperlinks and big words they couldn't pronounce. And, these boys could read fast. I couldn't even follow along with the paragraphs of white words as they read, they were speaking so quickly. (probably nerves..)

But, there was one question that was answered by watching this presentation. I now understand why it's so difficult to get some students to drop the inflection of their voices at the end of English sentences. I think it's because they don't do it in Turkish either. I've tried drawing pictures, making students repeat after me, singing chants, etc, but some students still raise their voices at the period as if they're asking a question.

So, even though I could be critical of the copy-paste projects, I can be grateful that I learned something new.

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