Hi and welcome back to my blog. We just completed a PLP project unlike any I’ve ever done before. In this project, we became the teachers for real. With complete lesson plans, 30 minute presentations, and activities for the whole class to participate in. I feel like a lot of PLP projects are somewhat unusual, but this was the first I’ve ever done like this. The driving question was “How do we make choices about what is worth remembering?” and the objective for the project was clear. We had to choose an event mentioned in the song “We didn’t start the fire” by Billy Joel, and explain the historical significance of that event in the form of a school lesson. For some context, the event I chose was the Tiananmen Square protests that happened in 1989.
I think I had quite a lot of successes in this project, but for me, the biggest one was definitely my presentation. I put a lot of work into the research aspect of this project. I checked far more than the required five sources, and spent hours delving into the backstory of my event. I did research on the previous leaders of China, the introduction of communism into China, and the major events that had shaped the past 50 years before my event. I worked incredibly hard to give my event with more historical context, so that people could understand not only what my event was, but why it had happened. I thought if people could understand why my event had happened, they could better understand the effects it would have. And I think I succeeded in this, and therefore excelled in the historical significance competency of this project. I showed a very large scale picture of my event, both the causes and consequences. And I feel I did a fairly good job of not injecting my own opinions into my teaching of the event.
However, with the positives of this project, there also comes the negatives. I think my biggest letdown in this project was definitely my quote. Part of the brief of this project was to find a secondary source about your topic in the form of a quote. I emailed several professors about my topic, as well as trying to reach out to a family friend, but received no usable response. I ended up using the book of one of the professors that I had emailed as a source to quote. This is not the kind of result I am proud of achieving in this class, and I think next time I encounter a situation like this, I need to plan better, and create even more options for myself in terms of interviews, so that I don’t run out of time. The other thing I think I could’ve improved in this project was my lesson activities. Although I was quite happy with my quiz as I think it was successful and engaging, it was not particularly creative. But I think my intro activity, which was just asking what people knew about the Tiananmen Square protests, was not particularly engaging, or creative. In this project I enjoyed researching my topic a ton. So much so that I feel like I neglected the parts of the project I enjoyed less. These two activities unfortunately fell under that lack of excitement, and therefore did not receive the attention they deserved. In future projects, I need to work on spreading my attention everywhere, and not just devoting it all to my favourite part. Although I think it’s OK to put more energy into something I enjoy, the other parts of my project should not suffer for it, and I think that may have been the case this time.
This project was one I truly enjoyed. I really like getting to make my own choices when it comes to topic (although I am extremely indecisive), and getting to research it by myself was extremely exciting. However this extreme excitement that I may have felt definitely taught me something, not everyone has it. Every person out there has something different that they find interesting, and it is extremely hard to teach people who aren’t interested. I’m not saying my classmates weren’t interested, but I sincerely doubt all of them were as interested and invested as I was. This made my lesson extremely hard to plan. Since I was interested, why wouldn’t they be? Why did I need to engage anyone if the topic was so interesting? These are the questions that I didn’t even consciously ask myself, because unsurprisingly I had approached this project as a personal one. But in order to teach something well, in a way that engages almost everyone, and allows them to remember what you have taught them. Requires thinking beyond yourself, and trying to identify the parts of an event most interesting to other people. A good lesson also has engaging activities, that can pull people into thinking about your topic. This is something I really tried to do in this project, but I’m not quite sure I succeeded at. However, I will continue trying to improve this skill in other areas of my life, like my job. Actually taking time to think about what makes a good lesson for other people, and not just my own interests, is something that I hope will improve me as a coach as well.