A middle school teacher that I worked with last year said “whatever works, don’t fight it” when we would talk about all the different things we tried in our classes. She was referring to how she was engaging her students. Willing to try just about anything, she maintained throughout the year that she was going to keep doing what was working for her.
Because what I was doing wasn’t working, I’ve revamped the plans for one district. The thing is, I wasn’t being effective. It wasn’t bringing on change or improvement. The teachers involved needed something different. It’s difficult to stop something that you were convinced is going to work and to go at it from another angle.
Whatever works, don’t fight it
So, where did this new plan come from? If you look back at my post after Educon, you’ll see that I am thinking that sharing stories is a fantastic way to bring improvement to our classrooms. In order to make this list, I listened to stories from and read and studied information from Kern Kelley, Helen Barrett, the collective wisdom of http://1to1schools.net/ and countless articles and pieces of research.
Here’s the new plan as it stands now (subject to change):
It’s not a tech initiative, it’s a learning initiative
Digital Portfolios (using Google Sites)
Managing the 1:1 Classroom
Starting a student leadership team in grades 5-8
Sharing success stories with colleagues
Parent/Community training and showcases
The thing is though, that this new set of objectives may still not bring on enough improvement and discussion to satisfy the participants. Part of me feels like there isn’t anything wrong with trying to help and ultimately not making a change, and part of me feels extremely concerned. Each teacher and group of students is unique. How would you cope / deal / discuss / decide what your next step was?
1. It’s not a tech initiative, it’s a learning initiative
2. Digital Portfolios using Google Sites
3. *Managing the 1:1 Classroom –
4. Starting a student leadership team in grades 5-8
Yesterday I sat in on several sessions at the Virtual School Symposium in Glendale, Arizona. Two turned out to be vendor driven, one never really got to the point and one truly provided some great ideas to think about.
The presenters were from the Branson School Online. Leanna Christians is the K-12 virtual principal and Christina Narayan is an elementary virtual school teacher. The theme of their presentation was the “Circle of Trust”. The idea that you don’t want anyone involved with the school to feel outside the circle. They talked about parents, students, teachers, administration and staff.
The entire time I was listening to Leanna and Christina I was thinking about how everything they were saying applied to every BAM (Bricks and Mortar) school.
Online Colleges and Universities has published a really useful list of open courses on teaching with technology. This comes at the right time as some of our budgets allow for little professional development. Some of the institutions represented in the list are:
Barbara De Santis from Sayerville Public Schools told me about the Mystery Class project. I hadn’t seen it before and the more I read about it, the more I was impressed at how well organized and sustainable it could be in the classroom. I have been recommending Jen Wagner’s collaborative projects for a couple of years and will continue to as the teachers and students that I work with LOVE them and I think they are fantastic, but this was one I had not yet seen.
“In this global game of hide-and-seek, students search to uncover the secret locations of ten “mystery” sites hiding around the Earth. To guide the investigation, they track changes in day length at the mystery sites and at their hometown, and use other “clues” along the way. As they take this inspiring journey, students unlock the essential questions behind the reasons for seasons and the dramatic changes in day length that result.”
Think about how many ways we can tie this into what we teach in our classrooms. I believe that I would be able to tie this into pretty much every content area. I know you probably have questions about how to participate and the calendar and schedule of events. You’ll be relieved to know that the website is very easy to navigate and I am confident that you’ll be able to find the answers to your questions. There’s even a Frequently Asked Questions section if you’re having trouble finding the right section to look in.
Please let us know if you’ve participated in Mystery Class in the past. Share your experience here as a comment to encourage others to give it a try with their students.