Monday, February 25, 2013

PBL Grammar - Half-baked project idea

Recently, I had the chance to visit Compass Academy in Idaho Falls.   Great new school in our network with a ton of interesting things happening.

Spent some time with one of their ELA facilitators who was having the not-uncommon problem of figuring out how to incorporate grammar instruction into PBL in an authentic way.   Their solution is to have student's create personalized writing handbooks that they can use as resources in all their classes to improve their writing.  What I like about this project is the potential for exploration of the world of writers, the tools they use, and the ways they work to continually hone their craft.  Additionally, I think there is real potential for strong self-reflection about thinking and the process of writing.   I was able to sit-in on their critical friends session and it was also fantastic to see the other teachers in other subjects seize on the possibility of having this resource as a reference point for writing in projects in their classes as well.   Excited to see how it turns out!

In follow-up conversations with the facilitator, we stumbled into what feels like a really interesting question to me, and maybe a project idea.  There are TONS of online grammar checking programs.  Something that we were grappling with as we thought about using some possible resources for the project as bread-crumbs is which of these to recommend.   Which lead me to the following half-baked idea:

"Which online grammar checker is the best?"  

Now an obvious way to approach this would be to have students determine which of these was the best  and have the audience be themselves or their class.  It's personal, its relevant.  But I will say I am a fan of changing the lens of a question to provide fresher ways of thinking and different sorts of challenges in addition to engagement.   So I started asking, "Who else might be interested in knowing the best online grammar checker?"

Two possible twists on this question:

Grammar for Google
We all know that google is on a quest for web and world domination and that they frequently buy up smaller companies that have tools they want to incorporate into their package.  What if the project was to make a recommendation to google for which on the online grammar tools they should acquire to add to google docs?

Grammar for New Tech Network
Another angle that teachers in our network might consider is making a proposal to New Tech for what grammar tool we might promote in our growing work on literacy and college readiness.  Maybe a connection with @HortonAlix - Alix Horton NTN's literacy guru about a tool to promote?  Maybe a recommendation to @fitzwalsh - Chris Walsh, NTN's Director of Innovation and Echo Designer?

Done something similar? Have another half-baked project idea?  A way to push this from half-baked to fully baked?  Want to actually DO this one?

Post below or tweet me @edutwitt!

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