A.J. Juliani is an amazing educator and forward-thinking leader, who shares some great stuff on his blog. He is definitely a must-follow on Twitter, and here is a snippet from a recent blog post (with his permission).
I recently wrote a post (ok, it was kind of a rant) about “innovation” in education and who get’s to decide what is innovative. The bottom line of my argument is that the teacher and students get to decide, and what is innovative for you, may not be for others–which is completely ok!
That being said, I received a number of emails and questions about what types of “innovative work” I’ve seen in my role as a teacher, administrator, and speaker around the country. To be honest, there has been so much great work I’ve witnessed in my own district and traveling that it is hard to share it all. I’ve widdled it down to ten (because that seems like a solid number right?). These are some of the examples I share when doing workshops and working with teachers because I know they work and there are many teachers they can collaborate with that are already doing this type of learning.
I’m calling these 10 examples practical because I believe they are doable. They work in most grade levels, in most schools, in most situations. However, as we talked about in a previous post, you and your students are going to have to be the ultimate decision makers on whether or not any of these ideas would work.
1. Let Your Students Design the Learning
We all have those assignments, assessments, and units that need some revitalization. Often we toil, thinking about how we can design a project or activity that is going to engage our students and empower them to do amazing work. One time, I didn’t do this. One time, I asked and had a conversation with my students about the final assessment. And that one time turned into one of the most innovative projects I’ve ever been a part of: Project Global Inform. You see, when I brought my students into the actual “designing” process they took an enormous amount of ownership in how we would structure this final project, how we would grade this final project, and what the expectations were from them. Give your students a chance to design the learning with you and watch what can happen.
2. Run a Student-Led Edcamp
In 2014 I read about Jason Seliskar running an “Elementary Unconference” as an Edcamp for his 4th grade students. It was fantastic. Thes students create their own learning boards (just like in Edcamp), schedule for the day/class, and then become experts and learners in each other’s session. Since then I’ve seen a number of schools and teachers run student-led edcamps (here is one at a MS) with great success. Why does it work? For the same reason Edcamp works for us teachers: They own the learning and experience.