These are meant to be just Spar-X, slight nudges to give your student just enough push to get going…but if you are like me and need more details here is how I use them…
- Give the directions in a visual format: on a white board, through email, a blog post whatever works for you, but make sure it’s something your student to refer back too.
- Set an extended due date: our timeline is normally a week Wednesday to Wednesday. I hate Monday/Friday pressures and deadlines myself which is why I chose the middle of the week. If it’s a larger project I break it into chunks but I always make sure they know exactly what the deliverables are for the shortest timeframe.
- Don’t help them: of course, this is on a case by case basis, but the goal of these projects is to see where their mind goes, what skills they pursue. Of course, my 8 year old who struggles with reading needs me a bit, and I’m happy to give a nudge in the right direction when they are trying to figure something out, but push them to go out and do what the Spar-X brings out in them.
- Be clear on your expectations (how to grade): I happily through letter grades out the door when we started this, but I needed some reward system to motivate them to get it done to the very best of the their abilities. So on delivery date, we present to the whole crew (this helps with public speaking and presentation skills.) I reward based on three things: 1) did they follow the directions (remember #1, it’s very important.) My requirements aren’t stringent because I want them to be creative (#3) but there are some things I specify, if they didn’t do those things, they are penalized with a lesser reward. 2) Was it done on time, easy reward and sometimes a child just needs that easy reward sometimes; and 3) is your presentation and deliverable to the best of your ability. I am constantly having to remind them that I’m not comparing their output to their siblings (5 different grade levels, 5 different personalities, 5 different strengths and interests,) I’m judging them based on their abilities which as their mother/teacher I am very well aware of. A hard lesson but very important in the real world.
My kids love these Spar-X and they especially love them when it’s something that holds their interest. But when it doesn’t, I remind them that in the real world, they will often be called to do things that they don’t like and/or may not be good at and the thing they need to do is tackle it head on and do it to the best of their abilities.