Teacher Innovation #4: PBL and Online Learning Platforms

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Post #4 comes from another esteemed colleague and ELA friend, Brooke Webb. Brooke was our school’s Teacher of the Year just two years ago and as you will read, truly deserved the accolade. I can always count on Brooke to be on the cusp of innovation in our school. I want to be careful to point out that innovation is not necessarily this concept of creating something entirely new; rather, innovation in our school is typically taking best practices and escalating them in way to build more authentic learning results for our students (i.e. calls for civil engagement, solving local problems, serving community members, building up resources, etc.). To get to this more authentic work, Brooke works diligently to help students see how their studies interconnect. Brooke, like myself, worries about how we continue to teach our content in silos, keeping students from seeing the benefit of cross-curricular learning and engagement. In her post today, Brooke presents the work she did taking on project-based learning and using our online learning platform (eCLASS) to help her students navigate the complexity of the tasks involved.

Previous Teacher Innovation Entries: Part 1 // Part 2 // Part 3

by Brooke Webb

PBL AND eCLASS IN ELECTIVES: POP UP GREEK MYTHOLOGY MUSEUM

Project Based Learning (PBL) empowers students to take control of their own learning through self-directed research, creation, innovation,  revision, and authentic presentation or publishing to a larger audience. As a language arts teacher, I find that PBL lends itself very well to the high school language arts classroom as we have the choice to cover our standards via a plethora of avenues. This year, I am teaching a language arts elective class that focuses on ancient cultures’ mythology texts. Having never taught an elective class before, I decided that I would try something new in my teaching path and use only PBL projects to assess my classes’ mastery of the standards. Continue reading

Teacher Innovation #3: “SCRUM It Up with Kanban with a Side of Trello”

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Post number 3 comes from another colleague and friend, Keith Phillips. Keith is part of my school’s CTE (Career & Technology Education) department and has run and developed our Audio/Visual & Film program for the last four years. Keith is one of my favorite teachers to collaborate with on various projects. He is basically fearless when it comes to trying out new tech and pedagogical approaches in his classroom. He’s a sponge for learning and when he catches fire for something in his classroom, the results are incredible for the kids. His post today introduces SCRUM, a project management protocol found within the Agile model of project design, which fortune 500 companies and various universities use. Keith uses SCRUM to run his many on-going projects and prepare his students for the project methodology they’ll likely see in their careers (A/V careers or otherwise). Finally, Keith dives into how he is transitioning to SCRUM online for his students using a program called Trello.

Previous Teacher Innovation Entries: Part 1 // Part 2

by Keith Phillips

 

If you came into the start of my class this past year you may have heard me say, “SCRUM it up!” and wonder why I was using a rugby term in my classroom.  For those that have never heard of SCRUM, it is an Agile framework for completing complex projects.  When working with SCRUM, the project leader or Scrum Master leads his group members            through a standing meeting.  In the SCRUM each member must answer three questions; What did I do yesterday?, What am I doing today?, and        Did I have any roadblocks?.  The Scrum Master keeps everyone on task and anything that isn’t relevant to the three questions gets placed into the “Parking Lot” for discussion at a later time.  This helps all group members to stay on task and limits the length of the meeting. Continue reading

Teacher Innovation #1: “Week 19: Equipping Seniors to Leave Our Classroom Nests”

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The first entry in the Teacher Innovation Summer Series comes from my colleague and friend Bill Smith. Bill is veteran teacher having taught in an ELA classroom for 14 years. This past year, Bill worked closely with many of our seniors and as you will read, he faced a few interesting challenges. Today’s post focuses on developing authentic conversations with senior who are on the verge of leaving our familiar and prescriptive schoolhouses.

by Bill Smith

“But I haven’t done anything yet! I’m just a student…”

“How do I calculate my HOPE [scholarship] GPA…?”

“I don’t have any work experience….”

“What’s the passing score for the SAT?”

“My ACT score wasn’t good enough. Now what…?”

“Who am I supposed to get references from…?”

What is that smell? Fear? Exasperation? Is it coming from them or me? Why do I have to fight so hard against making assumptions about what my students are capable of, of how far they’ve progressed? Maybe I’ve just overlayed my own high school template on this situation: I think I saw my guidance counselor once in the four years I was there, and one of my English teachers kept a poster of SAT dates by her door. That was it; at no time did any of my classroom teachers connect me we resources, skills, practices, or people to help me get to college. And of course I was going to college, so I’d just wait for the conclusion of that chapter of my life for someone to wave their magic wand and make an English major ready to get out and land some interviews. Continue reading

Coming Soon: Teacher Innovation Summer Series

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I am excited to announce a summer-long series of guest posts from some of the finest teachers I know. They will share their personal stories as innovative educators, including the triumphs and failures as well as reflections. They’ll explore identity in the classroom, project-based learning, technology, teacher partnering, overcoming obstacles related to innovative teaching and so much more! I cannot wait for others to read their experiences.

For the series we’ll be using #innovate and #transform to tag our posts.

Be on the look out for the first post next week!

Reflecting on My Recent Professional Development Effort: The Power of Teacher Vertical and Cross-Curricular Collaboration

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All professional fields incorporate professional development (PD) into the structure of their occupations. There are always ideas to share and experiences to be had with the intent of growing employees or to simply improve one’s self. The unfortunate reality–at least in education–is a great deal of professional development can feel inadequate at best and a waste of time at worst. It is with this understanding of my own PD experiences that I went into planning a professional development of teachers in my cluster of schools with trepidation. To be transparent, I was nervous I would let my colleagues down and planning a PD experience that lacked the right substance and the right balance of experiential learning and collaboration with some dreaded sit-and-get as well. This was not my first rodeo–I had developed and delivered PD for others before, but rarely do I feel I hit the mark or pushed a narrative forward. Well, this time, this PD, felt different. I walked away after three days of rigorous work with my colleagues believing we had all experienced a PD worthy of our time, energy and effort. Continue reading