Most everything I do in my classroom is coordinated with my teaching partner, Anne, who teaches geometry and chemistry in the room next to mine. When I refer here to things "we" are doing, that's who I mean.
Recently, we wrapped up a project called "Sex, Drugs & Rock N Roll" - a project in which, using the myriad tragic examples set by the rock music culture of the past, students studied the perils of drug use and created radio-style public service announcements about resources available for drug treatment and prevention. In conjunction with this, they learned about the history of Rock N Roll, investigated the chemistry of elicit drugs, and participated in a sexual health education class.
Since this project required the use of specific equipment that students only had access to at school (microphones and software for recording and mixing sound), and since we have 20 computers for 51 students, Anne and I devised a schedule where our students would be broken into three sections (17 students) instead of the usual two (26): one group would be with me for humanities class; the second would be with her for math/chem; and the third would have "tech time," with enough for one computer per student. It was a challenge to coordinate the details of this strange rotation, but it seemed we had sorted out our technological limitations.
One positive biproduct of our new arrangement was that students who were used to being in class together were shuffled around, which allowed us to investigate different dynamics in their influence on their peers. Students who influenced eachother negatively were separated, while students who supported their peers' academic performance were kept together - a sort of harmless social engineering experiment. For the most part, the results were positive and led us to think about making a few permanent changes for next semester. Of course, the decreased class size (17 instead of 26) helped improve dynamics as well.
One negative result of this arrangement was that students in the "tech" period were left without much direct supervision. From a behavior management perspective, it wasn't a problem; however, because Anne and I were engaged in teaching the other 2/3 of the team, students' "tech time" was entirely self-directed. If students had problems they couldn't solve, we weren't available to steer them in the right direction. Also, our engagement with the other students left us without much time to check in with them about their progress on the project. In some cases, it wasn't until time was running out that potential crises came to our attention. The average quality of the end products reflects this lack of direction, and I felt like I was missing the one-on-one personal contact that I usually love so much about projects.
Overall, I'd love to do this project again next year, but with some careful revisions. Anne and I have already begun talking about how to refine the project in order to avoid these pitfalls, and I think we can get much stronger results the next time around. When we return to class next semester, I plan to spend some time debriefing with the students about how the experience was for them and how we could have supported them better.
Student work samples from the project can be viewed on my Digital Portfolio.