Project A: Mission Accomplished!

Imagine an evil villain inviting Dr. Who and two of his companions to try out a new video game only to have them get sucked up inside the game! That was the plot of a story created by a student in the new, four-week, Project A course, Dr. Who: Write Your Own Fan Fiction, which I just taught for WCATY. The students’ “mission”: to write an original Dr. Who story featuring a specific incarnation of Dr. Who and his companions. Students had to study the characters to make sure they didn't do or say anything out of character. They had to use the show's backstory and setting but create a new adventure or challenge for Dr. Who. 

Project A courses, offered for the first time this fall, were developed in response to schools’ request for shorter interventions than WCATY’s nine-week, blended learning Academy classes. A little less rigorous than Academy courses, Project A classes are taught entirely online and involve no face-to-face meetings. They can be used to determine if students are ready for the Academy.

 

Students are required to complete final projects, which are posted in WCATY’s new DoOR Gallery to be viewed by the entire WCATY community. The courses are structured to include two forums and an assignment each week. One forum is based on a guiding question and the other involves group work. The assignments include activities to help students complete their projects. 

After teaching nine-week Academy courses for years, I was excited to jump into WCATY’s newest adventure. Still, as a person strong in gestalt thinking who loves to build new learning on previous learning, I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to provide enough scaffolded teaching to help my thirteen students produce quality final projects, and that I wouldn’t get to know them very well in four weeks. 

I was pleasantly surprised: I found I was able to weave the background knowledge students needed for project development into the guiding questions and group forums. And although I didn’t get to know the students quite as well as I did over nine weeks, I enjoyed our interaction and felt we connected through their creative ideas. I also was thrilled with their final projects! I did miss the excitement and fun of the face-to-face meetings; however, I was gratified that students could sign up for classes based on areas of interest rather than school location. 

WCATY’s vision and commitment to meeting the diverse needs of high-ability students has been furthered by the addition of its Project A classes, which help students learn and grow in their thinking and writing abilities and pursue areas of interest through in-depth project development. I give these courses a score of 10 out of 10!

 

Susan Henn recently retired from her position as GT Coordinator in the Fort Atkinson School District. She taught gifted education for more than twenty years before retiring, and has designed courses and taught for WCATY's online Academy for the past eight years.

 

 

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