Thank you, Pernille Ripp, blogger for giving me a spark today.
SO….finally after a seven month absence–I guess this is not a blog anymore; however, in the spirit of “let’s be resilient” I must give it another go. For an article has inspired me to blog with some of my thinking in regard to this 21st Century teaching effort and journey that I have been riding for a couple years. To catch some up, I am in my second year of piloting a classroom which was designed to meet the needs of today’s young learners. Funded by the Morgridge Family Foundation, this project has grown into a lab of sorts as I have tried many things, some bang on and some not so much.
I can report with a great deal of fervor, that this creation has it’s share of very successful findings, some of which are (no concrete nationally normed data; however, my honest collection):
- Student ownership of the room is very exciting. Not having assigned desks with name labels has enhanced the feeling of “this is our room”. Students tend to get into habits, sitting by the same peers; however, when reminded to branch out and try new places, they eagerly discover the gains of an open space.
- Reading gains have been interesting as students are reading above grade level, without the everyday routine of “balanced literacy” rituals such as guided reading and shared reading. Students’ motivation to read media and find information has resulted in readers who are fluent (very high word per minute rates), and articulate about thinking about information they digest. My reading role has been a coaching model as they search, find and make meaning.
- A gaming culture has exploded in the classroom as students would much rather show thinking through a Minecraft avenue as opposed to more traditional whole class projects. The absolute thrill of introducing Minecraft has demanded careful organization, trial and error.
- The concept of Quality Product continues to be a bloodstream of my work as students’ weekly goal is to work toward a quality, thinking piece to share with peers and others on Fridays. These Fridays can be long and the audience often needs a break; however, showing creations to others has enforced accountability and motivation. Peer assessment and self assessment has become a norm as well.
- Carefully positioned assignments with limited bounds have resulted in personalized Project Based Assessment opportunities. Students show thinking as they wish and this encourages risk taking which was more difficult to inspire last year.
Along with the celebrations of this Primary Innovation Studio model, there are still areas of challenge that persist to nag me along the way. Some of them include:
- Lack of motivation to physically write. Students want to type and show their thinking digitally and it is so much more natural for my students. Students seem to lose stamina as the continue to write with pencil and paper.
- Some students just don’t want to MAKE. Hence my intrigue with the article highlighted in this blogpost. It really depends on the group of students. Last year, although challenged with more behavior issues, the students were crazed makers. They could not get enough of the Maker’s Space and Legos. This year’s group is much more game oriented, and like to show their thinking with Minecraft. I am inspired by Pernille Rip, as she asserts the mantra of teaching the kids we HAVE in our classes, not the kids we think we should have in this new era.
In closing, must include my shout out for Twitter. It is MY professional development as it is completely differentiated, personalized and relevant. Thanks colleagues everywhere!