Monthly Archives: June 2012

Final Projects

Over the last few days, the students presented their projects for the “Overcome a Challenge” assignment. Most of them were pretty good. Some of them were outstanding. Two of my faves.

Sleeping better –

Getting better grades – Learning how to get good grades and a brochure

 The students gave me permisison to show their work on my blog, but I’m going to have to ask that you view but don’t save. Thanks.

To end the project, I wanted to try something fun and cool, so the students planned out a photo that would represent the challenge they overcame. They also chose a quality they felt they needed in order to overcome the challenge to include in the picture. Krista came in to take them. Here’s a sample:

What a great way to end the unit!


My Challenge

As mentioned previously, I like to do certain assignments alongside the students. Since this is my first time with this assignment, I thought it would be good for me to do it, so that I could pick out any difficulties or errors  in it, as well as see how difficult/easy it would be to complete the way I set it up. And to show the students an example (or sometimes a non-example).

I read “Ultra Marathon Man” by Dean Karnazes. Great book. I also found two websites and interviewed our school’s teacher-librarian. I found that some students were really struggling with the “Step Two: Supplement” handout, so I made an example to show them.


After gathering all that information, it was time to make a brochure. I really tried to instill in the students that the point of doing all this research was to synthesize the data into their handout and presentation: to take bits and pieces of what they learned from all four sources and put it together in their own words. Easier said then done. Students will more often then not type their query into google, go to the first website, and start copying and pasting. To them, “in your own words” means you change some of the words or their order. It’s not real learning. It takes little to no skill. After having a discussion about it, most of the students understood what they needed to do, but it’s no easy task – synthesizing is a dying skill, being stabbed to death by misuse of google and the internet in general. I think that next time around, I will show a non-example of a brochure: one that I made entirely by copying and pasting, to compare to the one made using the text, interview, and 2 websites to make.  Here’s my example brochure from this time around:


Next was attempting to overcome my challenge. I ran a few times and worked myself up to 8k. One day after school decided to run indoors due to the rain. I wanted to see how far I could go. Answer:

That’s in miles. :)

I tried again the next week, to run 11k this time, but my feet started hurting so badly around 8 I had to stop. My foot soreness in conjunction with talking to the teacher-librarian led me to buying some new runners. I went to a local shop and bought these:

I tried them out on the treadmill the other day, and I think they’ll work famously. They feel like a hug on my foot. The salesman told me that I have to break them in really slowly, though, because they force you to use different muscles when running, and it takes time to get used to. What that means is that I won’t be able to run 15k in the next few weeks like I had wanted to. So technically, I didn’t complete my challenge. I think that’s a good thing, however, because it shows the students that even an attempt at a challenge is worth something. And I’m still going to try to work up to 15 eventually.

I used the website XtraNormal to make my presentation. Before showing it, the class went through the criteria for presentations. We watched the video and analyzed it according to the criteria – a “critique the piece” activity. I think it really helped them understand the creativity that can come into play for presentations, and how to put it all together. Plus I had a lot of fun making it. Enjoy!!