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Teacher Gets Creative With Final Exams, Students Create PodCasts

Teacher Gets Creative with Final Exams, Students Create PodCasts

A 10th grade English teacher has taken an innovative approach to the final exam by having her students create their own podcasts in a great example of how project-based learning works.

In Alexa Schlechter's classroom in Norwalk High School in Connecticut, students spent months listening to the podcast that has captured the attention of the nation, Serial, and discussing it as a class.

"After spending months listening to Serial and talking about it as a class, a two-hour sit-down final seemed pointless, irrelevant and an inaccurate gauge of all the learning that had taken place throughout the year," according to Mind Shift.

Students were broken up into groups and told they had to analyze a central idea from Harper Lee's classic To Kill a Mockingbird "which the classes had recently analyzed, and ponder that theme as if they were the author of the previously-read memoir." Schlechter broke the project up into several steps with a list of required demonstrated skills to make it work.

After understanding the project's requirements, students ability to get creative with the podcasts was unlimited.

"One group of students named their podcast 'The Silent Struggle,' referring to women’s repression in history. Memoir 'authors' Al Michaels, Jeannette Walls, Cupcake Brown, Farrah Abraham, and Go Ask Alice diarist Alice Smith discussed their own troubles with drugs and drinking, and interviewed To Kill a Mockingbird character Mayella Ewell about her alcoholic father," the article said.

Because students had to work in groups, assessing the cohesiveness of each group's work was important. "To stay on top of daily assignments, every student was required to write a paragraph assessing how she and her group performed that day."

During the time allotted for final exams, students presented the final version of their podcasts.

"Schlechter had doubts at the early stages of the project, wondering if she’d been too ambitious in assigning such complex and time-consuming work to scads of teenagers so close to the start of summer," according to Mind Shift.

At the end of the presentations, she realized her students had done it, and she was happy that the project bought rigor to her classroom.

Read more about Schlechter's podcast exam here, and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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