Rachael and I had a text discussion today. Since she is/was a teacher, I go to her for her opinion on educational items that I find might be a bit weird. I should add that I went to my friend Kay. She has children that go to the same school and have had K's same teacher.
The children were to choose an animal for two-part project. Part one is to write a fictional story about your animal. Part two is to research your animal and to write a paper about it. The entire thing is being done in class, including research. I did have K work on research over spring break since she does get pulled out of class for math tutoring. Since I don't know what time she would miss, I wanted to make sure that she didn't go in unprepared. She has 50 facts listed that she found and wrote down herself.
For second grade, the children were to do a habitat project. K did a project on bats. She had two weeks to create the project, which was given a fairly detailed rubric to follow and a presentation that she was to give.
We've taught K that if she has two weeks to do a project, she has two weeks to use.
We've taught K that if it lists "the minimum requirements are . . . " that means that in order to get a C, you must get these basic things handled. The more details you provide, the higher your grade could potentially be.
K loves bats. She researched and read until her eyes were ready to fall out. Truly, the child did a grand job. She drew three different examples of habitats for them. She wrote a "paper" telling the different details that she compiled. Her things weren't glued down completely straight. Her lettering was a hair wonky. I would have spaced it differently, but it looked very good. She was in second grade and where I helped to guide her more on the previous two projects she had last year, I let her ride the bat project largely on her own.
Most of the habitat projects I saw looked as if they were thrown together the evening before and only had the very minimum requirements met.
I am happy to say that K received an A on her bat project.
Fast forward again to this year. I cannot tell you how many children are dusting off the habitat project from last year and just re-doing the same animal. K came home and explained that this one and that one were doing what they did last year. We had a discussion about how doing a project for class was giving her a learning opportunity. I asked her to do what I asked of her last year. I asked her to choose an animal from our area. At this age, I'd like her to learn as much about the area as possible. Maybe I shouldn't have given her those parameters, but her dad is a park naturalist, so he agreed with my request. K thought about it for a day or two and chose beavers. She had been to a few beaver programs that her dad did and she felt confident about having them be the subject of a two-part, long haul project.
My neighbor's daughter is doing her project on the Arctic Fox-- again.
When discussing it at the bus stop I told her that K basically exhausted all she could learn about bats last year and that I was sure that there was more that E could learn about the Arctic Fox. (I saw her project last year. It wasn't terribly detailed.) I wasn't snotty about it. She was giggling when she said, "Well, she's doing what she did last year-- the Arctic Fox."
Last year, we had several opportunities to teach K how to do a research project. She had a fire escape project that she had two weeks to complete. She was the only one to turn it in on a poster. For her president project, we had her present it to us for several evenings before she took it to school. That way, she was prepared when she needed to present it to her class. For her area brochure this year, I refused to let her do the local zoo. I told her that she needed to choose a place we had never been before. It was fresh information for her and taught her about Native American culture that was here in our area. Though the option was given that the children could type it (we know that wouldn't happen and it would be parents), I had K hand write the brochure. I went over her pencil with fine point Sharpie. It was her project and it looked like her work.
We take opportunities with projects and have K learn as much as humanly (age wise) possible on the subject. She is a reader and loves to learn. I don't have to struggle with her on research.
Like Rachael said, so many parents want the easy way out (paraphrased and let me know if I got it wrong) and to go with laziness and bare minimum requirements. I"m not saying that K will always get an A on a project that she has spent a lot of time on, but we look at projects now as a way of teaching K how to properly research for projects for her own schooling by herself later in time.
Cheater pumpkin eater isn't going to serve her well.