>There are two issues - if the project is a group project, how do you stop >someone from riding the coattails of a more ambitious student? And if work >is done outside of class, how do you ensure that the work submitted by the >student is their own work? > >We have tended to solve the first problem by not having group projects.
I teach five sixth grade classes. Even at that "tender" age, the students are grubbing for grades most of the time.
One exception is during my "200 Point Challenge" in which I break all the classes into "brain trusts". The groups have two weeks to solve 5 or 6 challenging word and logic problems.
One of their first jobs is to fill out a contract in which they list who in their group will be responsible for the final write-up of each question, who will make the cover for the project, etc. The correct answer is worth 5 points whereas the written explanation of their thinking and strategies is worth 20 points. The last question is a very difficult logic problem designated as the"honor problem" and it is worth 100 points.
On "Presentation Day," the projects are turned in and then I pull a number out of one of two "hats" to determine who in the class will present their group's solution. Ahead of time I have given each member of each group a number. The first number determine which group will have to present the solution to the rest of the class, the second number determines which group member has to present the solution.
This process elliminates one student from doing all the work as each member has to be able to explain the solution. A day or so before "Presentation Day," the groups meet to discuss their individual solutions. At this time they are able to challenge each other's answer if they feel the incorrect solution was arrived at. I give extra bonus points for the presentation of a job well done. They can also receive minus points if their number is pulled and they can't explain their group's solution.
As a reward for all the hard work (and they all do work extreremy hard!!) I pass out "free homework night" vouchers depending upon their final score.
Incidently, I plan the presentation Day on "Grandparent's Day" and the grandparents are "blown away" with the presentations!! Good PR and it lets then see how math has changed since they were sitting in the classroom!
I know this is lengthy, but i thought some of you would like to see what is happening at the sixth grade level in respect to problem solving.