Showing posts from April, 2016

How Your Students Can Design Their Own Learning

Students who get to decide the questions they ask and the products they create are engaged, invested, and proud of their school work. Student-driven project based learning can make this dynamic possible in any classroom. Not every lesson or project in every class needs to take this form. Maybe reserve it for the big stuff. If every culminating end-of-unit or end-of-quarter activity is PBL, students will leave your class feeling as though they own their knowledge and know how they will use it moving forward. Here are 6 steps to guiding your students through designing their own learning experiences: 1. Personalize It Most learners are accustomed to being given directions, following them step-by-step, and producing a project that looks incredibly similar (or identical) to a model. In a traditional classroom, the teacher plans the project and the students make it. In a personalized PBL classroom, the students do it all. My favorite resource for defining and explaining persona

Teach the Way You Wish You Were Taught

During my first year as a teacher, I taught the way I had been taught. It was tried and true. It had worked for me. I believed it was right. Generally, it worked OK. After a year or two of relying on these methods, I reflected more on my students' experiences and my own experiences as a student. Students work hard. They listen intently. They take notes and try to understand. They do all of these until they feel overwhelmed and give up. Some give up quickly because they get overwhelmed quickly. They are sometimes labeled "lazy." Some only give up on certain classes or projects that put them over the edge. None of this sounds like the type of learning I want my students, or my own children, to experience. I've said this before : "I don't just want them to learn. I want them to want  to learn." There is a difference. If our learners want to learn, they will dive deeper, think more, and be more creative. Instructional design, student voice, and ques

Innovative Teaching Requires Innovative PD: 5 Solutions

If school and district leaders want teachers to take risks and innovate in their classrooms, then those leaders must take similar risks when designing professional development.  Modeling is not overrated. Let me repeat that: Modeling is NOT overrated. What follows is the If...Then of professional learning. If school leaders want teachers to be innovative, then they have to offer experiences that inspire innovation. Here are ideas that have worked, with concrete examples. IF we want teachers to try new tech tools and instructional practices, THEN give teachers a chance to try them out in context. Not as a special training. Teachers have grown tired of trainings that are focused on the latest app or shiny new tech tool.  When one-to-one and bring your own device programs were first rolled out several years ago, many professional learning opportunities were modeled this way. Without putting teaching practices or learning goals first in professional development, apps and tech too