Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tool 7 - Classroom Walls: Demolition and Reconstruction in Stages

Last Summer I completed the Flat Classroom Certified Teacher program. As a part of that certification, I designed the project below. It is probably over-ambitious, but it is doable, if only in stages. The fall 2011 semester was supposed to be devoted to stage 1 - the inter-classroom book club. Due to a construction error and inter-entity bureaucratic ridiculousness, I lost about 5 weeks time that could have been so devoted. Consequently, I only began the nuts and bolts planning in mid November. Through Skype's education network, I found 8th grade classrooms in Illinois and at Spring Branch Middle willing to participate, but the semester just got away from us. In addition to these classrooms there others in the Flat Classroom community that expressed interest in participating. The project was designed to encourage and accommodate student direction and alteration. I have used a variety of tool/skill acquisition exercises to identify students that may have the interest and ability to participate in such an endeavor. As I consider the limitations of the next few months, I have decided to take a serious look at participating in an already proven Flat Classroom project either focusing on the flatting factors of Tom Friedman's "The World in Flat" with participating inter-continental classrooms or the EdGen Project that focuses on topics more aligned with future studies trends and issues. Regardless of which project I take a leap into and with whom, I am determined to offer my students a real opportunity to acquire the following skills: Synchronous and Asynchronous writing and editing; project/product flow across time zones; and online conferencing and presentation. In addition to the skill experiences and connections made with folks who have real Flattening experience in the Flat Classroom Certified Teacher program, I have the actual and painful (and as it turns out - Necessary) experience of failure in projects of this type. I attempted a Flat Classroom designed project called Digiteens last year with a small group. I learned that I failed miserably in understanding what I wanted the students to learn, in providing the amount of direct instruction and scaffolding required to actually produce the products indicative of the learning, and allocating and managing the most important aspect of ANY project: T I M E !!! I will likely discover new ways to fail, but those 3 will not be repeated. SO, here we go!!!!!!!!!!!!1

Classroom Walls: Demolition and Reconstruction in Stages

Overview: The project is designed to hit 3 large and complex curricular birds with one multifaceted instructional vehicle stone.

The curricular birds are: English Language Arts TEKS, genuine Technology Integration with emphasis on 21st Century standards (NET-S, T, A, and TC), and PBL methodologies utilizing UbD and H.E.A.T (LoTi) principles.

The Instructional Vehicle Stone is a project that builds, in stages, skills necessary for successful participation in a global project while teaching required curriculum pieces. The project is integrated into required practice. Therefore it is NOT an add-on that either does not get the necessary amount of attention to ensure a rewarding and valuable experience or does not get completed at all.

It is presented backwards, starting with where we want to end up and followed by each of the 2 preceding scaffolding pieces.

Project Stages

Part 3 – Classroom Walls: Demolition and Reconstruction - Global Perspectives on Future Trends

Guiding Questions:

What are the problems?

What are the issues that make it a problem?

What are the available solutions?

What approach is being taken towards solutions in your Nation/Culture?

Students from around the globe will collaboratively examine future trends in a variety of areas for the purpose of gaining a deeper understanding of the complexities of global issues and the fashioning (with a view towards implementation) of solutions to those problems.

1. Students will collaboratively develop a position or “white” paper regarding the topic/problem in consultation with experts and decision makers in the respective topics utilizing available means of synchronous and asynchronous communication. The final written product will follow professional guidelines regarding format/citation and will be submitted for publication to an appropriate publisher.
2. Students will collaboratively design and implement a summit to disseminate the results of the research, their proffered solutions or paths toward solutions and to attempt to draft a formal summit statement.
3. Students from each of the participating classrooms will develop a local community based project that either implements a proffered solution to a particular problem or serves the interest of service towards a solution the problem.
4. Students is the local groups will develop a forum to publish/present the projects to their respective communities (campus, district, neighborhoods, etc)
5. Each participating student will create a reflective product that captures their personal feelings toward the problem studied, the strengths and/or weaknesses of the solutions offered, the positive and/or negative aspects of the project, the process, or other developed by the students. This will include the manner and methods of sharing their product to the other participating students and classrooms, governmental entities….the world and beyond!
Relating to the following topic suggestions:

Hunger– Food Production and Distribution

Thirst – Water availability, quality, distribution, and access

Wellness – heath care delivery: quality, delivery systems, and access

Living Space – Living in a Hot, Crowded, and Flat World

Power - Who gets what and how? – The Structure and Functionality of political decisions - local, national, global, and inter-planetary (?)

Energy – Types, usages, costs, access

Transportation – Methods, Modes, and Destinations

Economy – How will production, productivity, consumption, distribution, exchange, and interaction occur?

Education – What will be the focus(es)? How will it be accessed? What will it look like?

Goal: Have at least one classroom on each of the 5 inhabited continents – Africa, Australia, Eurasia, North America, and South America. Place students and teachers on a matrix of related topics with each topic having a member from each of the participating areas. Those participating members will meet to discuss the topic and develop the group’s guiding questions and goals. All product and assessment rubrics, operational procedures and discussion methods, and celebrations are to be developed by the participating members and agreed upon by project leaders. (Preferably a small group comprised of students from each participating area and 1-2 teacher advisors/facilitators.

Part 2 - Classroom Walls: Demolition and Reconstruction - Future Trends Primer and Global Project Skill Building

Guiding Questions:

What is meant by Future Trends?

What are the major themes of futuristic novels?

Are there common threads discussed in the field of futures study; of future trend thinkers and writers?

What is meant by Global Project?

What skill sets are needed to fully and effectively participate in a Global Project?

What does collaboration look like?

What are the skills needed to collaborate – to collaborate effectively?

What methods are available to facilitate collaboration across the boundaries of the classroom, the campus, the district and…the world?

What issues and/or obstacles are raised as the collaborative distance is broadened?

Students will address the guiding questions in the format of distance book clubs. A cohort of teachers will be formed to discuss and refine the project? A list of futuristic teen novels will be made for students to select and form groups around. The goal is that each book club will be comprised of students from other (distant) classrooms. Once established, the clubs will internally set specific goals, timetables, assessment and product rubrics, presentation and celebration plans with the assistance and advice of their teacher advisors – within broad project parameters set by the participating teachers.

Learning – Students and Teachers

1. Use and operation of Wiki type platforms
2. Use and operation of Skype
3. Use and operation of Blackboard Collaborate, Go to Webinar, or other online group meeting platform
4. Creation, editing, management, posting and distribution of video products
5. Authentic opportunities to apply “school” work to the “real” world
6. Authentic experience with reverse mentoring principles
7. PBL Methodologies
8. Experience with concepts of learning at a distance, 21st Century standards and skills, work flow principles, Conceptual Age aptitudes, etc.
9. Experience the potential of H.E.A.T in terms of acquiring proficiency in both curricular concepts and marketable skill.
10. Wicked Fun of Learning!
Learning – Primarily Teachers

1. Creation, use, and maintenance of Classroom Management Portal creation, design, and maintenance
2. The general nature and pedagogy of PBL, global projects , and UbD principles
3. Reading, writing, and presenting pedagogy in the context of a global (distance) project
4. Possible “Curriculum 21” upgrades of traditional ELAR concepts in light of collaborative (distance) project possibilities
5. Introduction to the concept that students might have a valuable voice in terms of defining pedagogy and best practice.

Part 1 – Classroom Walls: Demolition and Reconstruction - Book Club Mechanics and Operation

Guiding Questions:

How do we transform our classrooms into University Level Courses in Life? (Book Whisperer)

How do we deliver the required curriculum skills (Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking, and Presenting), adequately and effectively assess the understanding of concepts taught AND instill a love of reading in our students such that they become lifelong readers?

How can we insure that every curriculum piece (TEK) taught, every lesson and/or activity used to instruct, is tied to an application assessment of student selected independent reading material? (Including the every 6 weeks required portfolio pieces)(Book Whisperer)

How do we structure our daily classroom procedures to foster adequate time for independent reading? (Workshop models + reading expectations/requirements – both quantity and genre)

How is the enjoyment of reading and development of reading skills enhanced by the book club format?

What are the skill sets necessary for an effective Book Club experience?

How are these skill sets taught most effectively and efficiently?

How are effective Book Clubs created, structured, operated, supported, and maintained?

What data should drive these determinations?

How does the Book Club structure affect our reading conferences and small group instruction?

What do effective Book Club assessments look like?

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