Monday, August 6, 2012

The Collaboratory Vision

I stole the term "Collaboratory" from David Thornburg. I think he would be happy that I am trying to so transform my classroom. In the same webinar where this term was used, Alan November added some thoughts as to what the realization of a collaboratory might be like. I took the nuggets of his remarks and added my own spin. Here is the grand vision:

The overarching goal of the 2012-2013 year is to transform the ELA classroom into a “Collaboratory”. A collaboratory is a learning environment that transcends classroom walls and campus schedules. It is a secure space where students are welcomed to explore their passions and gain meaning from applying knowledge and skills toward finding solutions to real world problems. The collaboratory is secure as failure is not feared but embraced as a necessary step on the path to individual and team success. In the collaboratory, the nurtured and valued attributes to be exhibited by all learners are courage, persistence, resilience, and empathy. To the greatest possible degree, the collaboratory eliminates the distinction between teacher and student and moves toward mentor-mentee and co-facilitator relationships. 

                In the collaboratory students are encouraged to engage in relevant work with friends. Students are allowed to demonstrate mastery of curricular objectives through the creation of products of their own design or those created through teamwork and collaboration with others. The collaboratory will operate to insure to the greatest extent possible that students get constructive and on-going feedback through a combination of positive peer review and critique, thorough self evaluation and reflection, and adult mentor/facilitator guidance and support. The adult mentor/facilitator will manage the operation of the collaboratory filled with enthusiasm for learning and committed to both the gathering of student input and acting upon that input.

                At the heart of the classroom to collaboratory transformation is the insistence that no negative stigma attaches to any learner in regard to current level of knowledge, ability, and/or skill. Learning and growth in the collaboratory begin where the students find themselves.  Similarly, no judgments in regard to past performance from previous years, months, or days will be entertained or tolerated.  Each new day is a fresh opportunity for every learner’s innate abilities to be discovered, developed, applied, expanded, shared, and celebrated.