Have I mentioned recently how much I love teaching middle schoolers? Yes, I know they can be maddeningly immature at times -- but isn't that the wrong measuring tool? After all, they ARE immature. That's what being an early adolescent IS. Why fault them for that?
My 7th grade US history class is working on long-term projects on various pre-Civil War topics. The students voted on a topic they wanted to do, then also voted on a particular medium for their topic (multimedia, art, drama, etc). I arranged the groups by topic and then tried to ensure that the various media were covered in each group. They generally arrive in class each day ready to work, sit right down, and do so! I'm actually trying to imagine myself doing that in 7th grade and I can't.
Sure there are some who are slower to produce than others. Most of the girls seem more organized than most of the boys, but that seems entirely developmental to me. I'm also sure that I will have to contact a few parents to let them know that their child isn't using his/her time wisely. But it's a joy to walk through the classroom and see them LEARNING. I believe in the CES model of "teacher as coach, student as worker", and I've believed in that long before I was aware of the Coaltion of Essential Schools and their principles.
It really works, and today I'm happy to be a part of it.