Educational Disruptions

Nailing Down a Plan

Last week I thought a bit about sharing research differently and even consider what might count as data collection. I went home and turned the wheels around in my head, discussed it some more, and refined the idea a bit. Now it’s arrived to what I think is a very exciting place. Last week, I focused on the idea of a photo exhibition. But when I got to thinking about it, I found the idea to be useful but limited. Taking pictures all year long, no matter how I configure it, could likely get boring for most people. Maybe some people would enjoy it, but I’m convinced the overall quality might drop a bit as people tire of it.

So I thought, what if students produced artifacts of their experiences as part of the project? They could produce them four or five times over the course of the year and then write a short reflection that explains what the artifact represents and why they chose to use a given medium. These artifacts don’t have to be set in stone. Teachers could decide what makes sense for their class, and reflection questions could be written that suit the experience of the students. We (meaning my research assistants and I) pick up artifacts that are local. Non-local artifacts get a picture taken of them and selected ones get mailed in.

After all of this is done, I’m thinking we’ll bring together an analysis group that consists of myself, doctoral students, teachers, and (hopefully) two-three students between the ages of 13-18. We’ll construct a process for analyzing the data, I’ll teach them analysis techniques as needed, and we’ll get to it. When we’re done, we’ll formulate an exhibit based on the findings or stories we want to tell. I still like the idea of a public exhibit. I just don’t want to limit it to photographs. Hopefully, lots of teachers and students will help set up the exhibit and participate in it.

Having figured all this out, I realized I was about $40,000.00 short on money. I quickly found a grant and have thrown together an application (it’s due on Nov. 19th!). I should probably keep knocking on door though. Fingers crossed as this money could really make an important impact on my project.



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