I’m just over 10 years into my teaching career and its been about 6 years since I transitioned full-time from HPE teacher to the classroom. My program has been pretty similar the past few years and I decided it was time to mix things up. I thinks students have generally enjoyed being in my class, but that is the problem, it has been “my class”. So this year I set out to hand the classroom over to the students and see what we could achieve. Slowly, we are moving towards co-designing learning, using feedback to guide and improve our learning, connect with our community, and try to create a classroom that allows every student to be successful.
Months of work culminated in our first week of learning in the “City of Glacier Park”. We begin with a TfEL Student Voice Audit to find our strengths and weaknesses as a classroom when it comes to students being evaluators; teachers; learning designers; researchers; decision-makers and advocates for 21st century learning. Using the Audit Cards we learned that while we have some areas of strengths, we are lacking significantly in creating opportunities for students to act as researchers, evaluators and designers of learning. These are the areas we will be focusing on when we co-design some learning projects towards the end of term.
We used the LAUNCH Cycle for the first time while participating in the Global Day of Design, a creative design thinking challenge involving schools all around the world. Our challenge was to create a new game using just a handful of materials including paddles, a wife ball, balloons etc. We used the Launch Notebook scaffold to guide our way through the cycle using an annotation app on iPads. This cut down significantly on paper (some 800 pages if we photocopied for every student) and gave us skills using a new technology. Student found the process was very long, and it wasn’t until the 5th phase that the penny dropped as to why we were doing it. They realised that if they could answer every question posed in the investigation and had used the feedback from their surveys that they had actually already created their sport without stepping outside. They were then unleashed create their prototype. When they discovered problems with the games they highlighted and fixed them, before preparing to launch to the world. We will see some finished products in week 2.
While the process was very long, most groups persevered and made it to the prototype and launch phase. Students then gave two types of feedback about the Launch cycle. Each team completed a PMI and then individually they recorded a FlipGrid video. We will use this feedback to create a more condensed version of the LAUNCH Cycle for this weeks task, building rockets and parachutes.
This was a long process for me also. I over-planned the week thinking this activity would take perhaps two days, but we still didn’t have a finished product at the weeks end. What was interesting was how invested the students were to finish. Many groups asked if they could continue the following week say they could share their sport with the class we connected with from Winnipeg, Canada. Normally there would’ve been a mad rush on Friday to give me something to grade, but the focus was on learning the process and completing the phases to create something they were proud of, so not one group was willing to compromise their final product just to finish.
Looking at our term overview and schedule, we have probably planned to try and cover too much content. Meeting deadlines and smashing content has been my normal practice, so slowing down and allowing students time to really invest in a project is a slow, messy process. We are using ‘soft deadlines’ to guide our progress, but the only ‘hard deadline’ I am pushing is the end of term.
Next up is finding a practical scaffold for students to self-assess their final product, and provide feedback for their teammates about what they valued about working with them.