Monday, May 14, 2012

Reflections on Innovative Learning: Year 1

As I read of a new group of schools stepping up to work on the Innovative Learning Initiative I took a moment to look back a year and reflect on what our school and in particular, my class has accomplished. From #sd36learn I read

Innovative Learning: School-Based Exploration

The National Council of Teachers of English (2008) defined twenty-first century readers and writers as those that need to:

    • Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-cultural

This year students learned  to work collaboratively on a daily basis. They not only took on all of the projects I created for them but  as the year progressed many added their own. They loved blogging and took every opportunity to add extra blogs and include their own choices of what they wanted to share. As their teacher, I watched them grow in competence and in self appreciation. I decided that blogging was something that I should take on as well. So I started this blog to help me reflect, share and experience blogging with my class. As their teacher I felt I should learn and experience  new opportunities with my class. Their energy spurred me on. Next year, I will create a blog to share with them and work towards interacting with them on the next step. Comments.
  •  Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
 We started with publishing  a creative writing assignment for Halloween. Each child followed the writing process in planning, drafting, editing and publishing their own story. They learned how to create a webpage, took photos of their illustrations and posted both. During the process they learned how to use Dropbox,  how to upload pictures from iPads and then download them  to use in a blog. We worked through many problems and the students found that if you placed all the photos into iPhoto before using them in iWeb that most orientation problems disappeared.

We moved on to making movies of our Literature Circle novels and my class found creative ways to combine Apps to add voice-overs to their stop motion animations. I was amazed at how easily they moved into the role of teachers and supported each other as we made the movies. I was worried about whether or not we could accomplish such a big project. I tried out a few animation apps and decided to go with MyStopMotion. I was worried about my choice and hoped all would go well. We jumped in feet first and again the class surpassed all expectations. We all started together but soon leaders emerged and as problems were encountered, solutions were found. Everyone was proud of their finished movie and gained a deeper understanding of the elements of a story. As I watched and listened I realized just how important this was to them and marveled at their new found expertise in setting and character portrayal.

On relection, I realize that we experienced truly transformative learning experiences as a class.


Foundation elements of the Innovative Learning Design Project:
  • Learning tasks that are authentic (e.g. project and problem-based), relevant and cross-curricular
  • Assessment that is ongoing, performance-based, equitable and guides instruction;
  • Constructivist instructional models that engage students in inquiry
  • Diverse learning needs are met with differentiated content, process and product
  • Collaborative learning opportunities that are incorporated into both physical and virtual spaces
  • Use of technology as a learning tool
  • Creative and critical thinking skills are pervasive across all curricular area
  • Students are able to influence and actively participate in shaping their learning.

As the year unfolded and students' abilities and proficiency with technology increased they started to ask for more projects and opportunities  to direct their own learning  by
  • choosing to do extra projects, 
  • asking for new ways to research and present their learning, 
  • looking for input from other classmates, and valuing contributions from others
  • expecting to share their learning and teach each other
  • asking for choice in shaping new projects, and debating what they should be
  • wanting to work in teams and building on each others strengths
  • demonstrating a more involved understanding of content

 I am amazed at all we have accomplished and how we have grown as a team.  I have learned as much as I have taught and am excited to try new projects next year.  Each new project we finish seems to open a new door of possibilities for another.

I asked the class how using the Macbooks and iPads changed how they learned. They said:

"It makes learning fun!"
"It makes you remember what you learn. It makes the information travel around your head."
"It means we get to work together."
"We have learned so much about blogging, webpages, movies and book making."
"It is so easy to tell others what we found."
" We love making voice-overs."
" It makes us feel in charge."
"Making movies was the best because we got to do so many things."

No comments:

Post a Comment