Thursday, March 14, 2013

Process Over Product

Presentation for today's session at NY/NJ Google Apps Summit.  Also provided is an overview for the session.

The use of mobile devices in classrooms increases opportunities for teachers and students to reflect upon their own learning. Through leveraging cameras embedded into iPads, iPod touches and smart phones, footage of classroom experiences can be archived for further analysis and discussion.

Come see how the Morris School District is using film and its use of Google Apps to focus a conversation on reflection and personal growth

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Starting To Take Shape

Starting to provide a structure and vision for our design school.  Thanks to @ahab6633 and @mylatinteacher for their assistance.

MHS Design School

MHS intends to open a design school for the 2014-2015 school year.  The MHS Design School will exists as a school within a school and serve as a hub for innovators at MHS and the larger community.  At its core, the design school will focus on building student capacity to develop a process for producing creative solutions to any challenge.  The Design School will also be rooted in the premise that students learn best by doing.  Students will engage in self-directed inquiry and problem solving under the mentorship of faculty, staff, and community members.  

The curriculum will employ an interdisciplinary approach to learning that blurs the lines between subject areas to engage learners in the inherent nuances and complexity of real-life issues.  Our goal is to develop learners who refuse to narrowly define themselves according to a single subject area.  Reversing the traditional sequence of industrial model learning, which is dependent upon building students’ knowledge up to considering a problem, Design School students will begin with their curiosity and define their lines of inquiry through observation and experimentation, backing into those needed components and required skills to address the problem.  We will build relevance and meaning in learning from necessity.  Students need opportunities to try on different hats to see what fits.  

Consider an engineer, who needs to proficiency in Math and Science, but who also needs to be able to speak and write persuasively for their audience.  

Much of traditional school is concerned with the past, teaching individual subject matters with a sense of history that may or may not have anything to do with the students and their lives.  The MHS Design School is a school where the present and future are prized and celebrated.  

Students will employ cutting-edge technology and leverage the power of living in a connected world to uncover real human needs, to inform their exploration and to fashion the world around them.  Throughout the Design School experience, students will be free to experiment with their curiosity and imagination, ultimately, connecting their skills, gifts and passions to attend to something greater than themselves.  

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Different Take?

Potential structure for our design school.  This is just a rough rough skeleton.  We do like the idea of changing the way we view/call students.  Again, just a rough sketch of what we are thinking.

Year I Students- Apprentices
Year I would be anchored by metacognitive studies, idea of detox and design theory.  Apprentices would engage in developmental design challenges such as the Sol LeWitt and Wikiseat Project.  Additionally, Apprentices would assist upperclassmen on their capstone endeavors.

Year II Students- Journeyman
Journeyman would begin to design their own projects and still assist on other projects.

Year III Students-Forman
Students would design and serve as a project leader on a community inspired design challenge.  Endeavors would be complex and take on an integrated approach. 

Year IV Students- Designer 
Designers would work on developing and following through on a capstone project.  The capstone project could build off previous challenges and each Designer could be required to build a team.  

Personally, I like the idea of using the following as a source of inspiration for our Designers:

“One of the most important things we can do is help young people find their way to be in service to something larger than themselves. Normally the only reason kids go to college or graduate school—and, in Wes Jackson’s words, the only real major offered—is upward mobility. But we fail to teach our children that service to something greater than themselves is far more likely to lead to a joyful and satisfying life, and one that is environmentally rich....  It all starts with the question: What’s the biggest and most important problem I can solve with my gifts and skills? Jensen, Derrick (2011-08-23). Walking On Water: Reading, Writing And Revolution (p. 45). Chelsea Green Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

I Want Kdis to Think

I want kids to think.  This is what is most important.

This statement was shared during a classroom visit yesterday.  It is a simple but yet powerful statement of what matters most.  We want students to be able to think for themselves.  We want students to think each and every day and spend time observing, reflecting and making sense of the world around them.
I hope we do not lose sight of this goal.  I feel as if the past few weeks my focus has been on preparing for the PARCC exams and working with instructors to craft Student Growth Objectives (SGOs).  A significant amount of talk has been about the new teacher evaluation system and specifically, evaluation percentages and developing algorithms to judge teacher effectiveness.

Again, I hope we do not lose sight of what matters most and that is helping mold independent and confident thinkers and as a former colleague used to say, those who live a wide-awake life.