I thought it was hard for me to get a new idea this year. But, now that I am thinking about it, I have a few.
1) work on my attitude about possibilities and be more open to student suggestions. After listening to youth at Outdoor Nation and others, this message of letting their voice through is really starting to sink in to me.
2) Paperless Fridays Challenge next year. I think having a challenge to all teachers at YHS to go paperless on one Friday per month would be an amazing experience. We can easily track participation over the course of the year. This would be a great project for our student senate to take on.
3) Pacha Kecha. This is a Japanese form of presentation that limits each slide to 20 seconds and has a series of presentations that are limited to 8 slides each. So in 6 minutes, 12 students could present. I think this might be useful in Biology for a survey of the animal kingdoms.
4) Google Site for Honors Challenge Reflections. I like the idea of having this be a paperless process where students can reflect on their honors challenge work in an easy way. I did a Google Docs spreadsheet this time. Maybe it would be useful for these to be more public?
I still don't have one that I'm pysched about. I'll work on it.
In my classroom, I intend to continue to work on shifting the focus from teacher centered lessons to student centered lessons. I learned a good lesson from my recent attempts at social collaboration online about content with the Infectious Support Ning (http://infectioussupport.ning.com/). I learned that students went deeper into the content because of that structure than they did in the past with individual research papers. I was so excited to see many students found, read and understood rigorous resources. As was mentioned in the plagiarism article, many times students settle for the first link and the first answer, but in the way we set up the Ning project, students had to go deeper. I was amazed. In this project, the next step for me is how to support those students that can work on the first level. We tried to differentiate by ability, but in addition the differentiation, I think we also need to provide support for those students in a more significant way.
Robinson says, "At the heart of our challenge is to reconstitute our sense of ability and of intelligence."
If we are to change from "fast food" education to a system that is not about conformity, what does that look like on the ground? Robinson is not the first to call for the revolution in education. We know there is a need to get kids outside, to have kids participate in their education. I feel like we are all searching for that major shift that will lead to a better end, but we struggle with the ground-level steps that lead there. If we are to revolutionize education, do we buck the system entirely? We have millions of kids to educate in this country. How do we ensure equity in a system that isn't standardized? It's not that I disagree with his assertion that the system does not allow for people (I love how he called a three-year old a "person") to find their talents, it's just that I have a hard time conceptualizing what it would look like.
I struggle with the idea that "kids know best" sometimes. At a recent Youth Summit called Outdoor Nation in Central Park in New York City, I listened as youth made suggestions for shifting our culture to one that embraces the outdoors, activity, service and environmental consciousness. They made a lot of great broad statements, but struggled when asked what steps would look like in practice in their communities. I thought to myself, "that wouldn't work because..." several times. But, I didn't say that to them. Here's why, it was their summit, not mine. Maybe they will find that creativity to solve the problems and create that cultural shift that is necessary.
Perhaps, it is me that needs to change the most! What do I need to do to avoid thinking, "that wouldn't work" and change to "what can I do to make that happen."
After all those ramblings, maybe my biggest change needs to be my attitude.
1-3 of 3