This part of the journey that is the dRAFT project has come to a conclusion and therefore can be assessed. Feedback of the project came in two forms: an interview with the co-teacher and a survey taken by the students.
Kristen Raymond is the English teacher for both Year 9 classes and her reflection, based on questions I posed, was very insightful. Overall, she loved the dRAFT idea and project and found it to be successful on many levels. Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of the dRAFT assignment is that it easily allows for differentiation. Students that struggle to see the deeper meaning of a novel can stick to more concrete ideas and present those ideas with the tools they are familiar with. Others can delve into subtler nuances and challenge themselves with a new application. Choice abounds. cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Mark J P
Ms. Raymond also liked that there was ICT support embedded, and presented, within the lesson – it helped to have “the face of ICT” in her room. It also helped to have much of the activity front loaded with the lesson, example, and support for the first two lessons. As it was the first attempt at doing the RAFT activity digitally, the students needed the support and encouragement that two adults could give. Interviewing each student was essential to determining their topic and subsequent digital format.
When asked if the “student understanding of their novels was enhanced by using digital technology?”, Ms. Raymond said it did. Some projects were simple and others more complex, but everyone had to give some though to creatively representing their point of view and this required a return to their understanding of the novel. It was interesting to see how students transferred their knowledge into their final presentation.
Risk-taking was another feature that was a pleasant surprise. Everyone took a risk in presenting their work to a wider audience. Many were willing to work with others to help finish their videos.
Of course there were also some things that could have been done differently, or improved upon. For some, using the 3 Little Bops video as an intro was too much of a stretch. Watching a video is different from reading a novel so perhaps having a children’s story or fable that can be read quickly might make it more relevant to their dRAFT experience.
Although not a digital technology issue, some students were confused about the literary element of the project. Many fixated on the grid and took a while to realize that they could mix and match the format they used as it applied to their situation. In fact, the students could mix and match any element of RAFT to suit their needs. The dRAFT grid was just a suggestion. In tandem with this confusion was the focus on the final product instead of the literary element of their novel. Of course it is important to have a goal, but if that goal does not match the circumstances, then it is not worth pursuing. For example, many stated they wanted to make a video instead of asking the question of how they might best represent the conflict or themes in their story.
It was also interesting, from Ms. Raymond’s perspective, that her students who are avid consumers of digital technology, are not very adept at applying its use. The students just expect the digital technology to work for them. In many instances the project became a ‘one-shot deal’ with no consideration for revising or improving upon their work – a ‘just get it done’ attitude.
For future RAFT activities Ms. Raymond wants to continue to encourage students to complete their work digitally so that it challenges their skills and interpretation of the novel they have read. She also liked that this has changed the paradigm from a paper assignment that begets a paper response to a paper assignment that begets a plethora of responses in a number of different media.
Student Survey Results
Overall, the student feedback was overwhelmingly positive. To see the survey and the questions asked, click this link. The chart that shows the results is here. Not unlike the fiasco that happened with oversight in the introduction of New Coke, students wanted to keep all options open. That is, they wanted to be able to choose to do their project digitally while not losing the ‘classic’ way of handing in their assignment off-line. As you can see in the chart below, just under a third of the student preferred the change outright but when combined with the students who had no preference, 87% would like to have the option of going digital. cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by EvanHahn
Did you enjoy completing your RAFT (Role, Audience, Format, Topic) activity digitally (d)RAFT?
This was vetted out in the next question where 79% of the students, rather maturely, stated that choosing to do their project digitally would ‘depend on the novel I have read and the format I would choose.’ Of course, this is not an overwhelming endorsement of dRAFT, but it could be a case of not wanting to limit oneself to only the digital option.
Another telling result from the survey was that there was about a 50-50 split about where the difficulties of the project lay. For those having issues, they struggled with either determining what they were going to do as much as how they might undertake it digitally. Optimistically, that could mean the learning occurred with both the literary context and the digital application.
As you can see, by simply consulting the stakeholders of dRAFT there is much to do to tweak and improve this activity. Making a formal, but simple, effort to solicit feedback will be crucial to assessing the effectiveness of dRAFT.
For those reading this post and considering implementing a ‘dRAFT-like’ activity, please feel free to use any of the materials in this blog. All I ask is that you reciprocate by letting me know what changes you made and how it worked. Can anyone see another simple method for getting feedback?