But I swear we've tried to fix the problem.
We start projects really early. Sometimes ridiculously early. Then we keep having little ideas that push us in a slightly new direction. That continues for several weeks or months, until the deadline starts looming.
Then we have an "OMG THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING AND IT'S DUE IN A FEW DAYS AND WE HAVE NOTHING" moment.
And from that place of panic, one of us has The Idea that makes everything fit together, or more often, the idea that requires us to throw everything out and start again.
But we always finish on time. And this process works for us.
Frankly, we've tried just about every time management strategy and what it comes down to is that this is just how we work best. We start with an outline, over time we fill in that outline, and eventually, the pressure of a looming deadline forces us to infuse it with creativity and personality.
And yet, we somehow expect our students to not operate as we do in this regard. We want them to have everything done early. We want them to be working on it at a steady pace throughout the project, and not do it all in a last minute rush.
Our friend, Jon Corippo, calls this "The Suck". Take a look through his slide deck describing it.
And we have had entire weeks in my class where The Suck was alive and well. For example, when we do these major puppet video projects, students are really excited with ALL OF THE IDEAS!!1! at the beginning. Then the reality that it's a whole lot of work seems to dawn on them. And then they struggle through the writing and rehearsing. Eventually, I get frustrated that we are behind schedule and announce that they are filming TOMORROW. They scramble, and put together mediocre plays. Then I give them feedback and they revise, and the second product is usually a lot better.
And when I look at that process, I see that it's roughly similar to the one Andrew and I go through.
So we've been thinking about ways to harness the power of the Last Minute Rush of Awesome in our class projects. One way I do that with my students is by not giving deadlines.
We just started a project on Egypt. The first step was they had to read eight source websites I had selected for them about daily life in ancient Egypt. Then they made some collaborative notes on a Google Doc. Then I checked them to make sure there were no glaring inaccuracies.
Then, I tell them about the roles - Art Designer, Director, Producer, Editor, and Lead Historian - and they choose roles. Then they begin the writing process.
After they've had about an hour of time to write, I give them about 30 minutes of rehearsal time (which is grossly insufficient, but still badly used) and then they film, ready or not.
What that generally reveals is that they don't know their lines, they don't have the right props in the right places, they had plans for things to go one way but didn't actually get them to work, and that they have lots and lots of revision to do.
And that's really what I want to happen. I want that first deadline to be a reminder that they have way more to do than they think. So it comes quickly, and without a ton of warning.
I've found that if I don't do that, I spend at least 3-4 additional hours of class time in "The Suck" and the final products aren't very good.
But if I give them that time AFTER that first deadline to revise and make their project better, the quality is head and shoulders above those first attempts.
It also teaches them that revision is always part of the process. They can't skip it; it's the most important part of the process.
I still haven't figured everything out, so I'd welcome suggestions on how you deal with "The Suck" in your PBL #flipclass.
If we all battle "The Suck" together, I know we can defeat it.