I have always struggled with decorating my classroom. I could walk into others rooms and see posters and spaces that looked really cool and had things covering every square inch of the wall. I was overwhelmed.
I thought I wanted a space that had interesting things for the students to see and read.
I went minimal. Everything came down because it was up for me.
I want a space that students will fill with their passion and creativity.
I want students doing their interests and their passions and I want the space to work for their needs.
I will leave the white spaces.
My students will have more room to create because I intentionally take out.
The quiet space, I will let be still.
I will be intentional about the students creating their space.
Question to ask..This learning space supports student learning by...because...
What is the purpose of your space?
A space for my learners that meets all of their needs. A space the students feel safe, comfortable and want to be in. A space learners need to collaborate, problem solve, think critically, be creative, and feel empowered to make a difference in their world.
How will you know when you are a success?
When students identify that the space helps them be successful in the above areas.
I won’t be successful in meeting my students’ needs.
An innovative space designed for the learners.
Students decide the norms around the design.
Brainstorm - verbal and visual
Feedback - What do they think of the plan?
The “Set-up” - build first iteration
The “Reconfigure” - Ask, “How can we make it better?”
“In a collaborative culture, schools operate like a greenhouse — that is, teachers ‘pollinate’ each other’s classrooms (sharing ideas and experiences) so that everyone ‘grows’ and no one ‘dies’” - Umair Qureshi
Collaboration needs movement and choice.
Idea Wall - huge - Showerboard Panels
T-Walls - t-shaped walls
“Spaces to create are about liberating the passion and purpose that rests deeply in the souls of students.”
Simple - cardboard, rubber bands, pipe cleaners, paper clips, hot glue guns
Dedicated Multi-media space
Pushing vs. Pulling
What if, instead of pushing content, we used our walls and screens to pull the learning through the students?
Display - finished work, passive
Showcase - learning progress(potential change), interactive
Crash Course in Design Theory
1. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
2. Less is more.
3. Think outside the box, but keep your product(learning) at the heart of it.
“Lives are so full of activity and chatter; it’s difficult to find quiet time, but I find that the quietest times of my life speak the loudest.” Regina Dugan
Seven Principles of Universal Design
Flexibility in Use.
Simple and Intuitive Use.
Perceptible Information. - use of colors, images to designate space
Tolerance for Error.
Low Physical Effort.
Size and Space for Approach and Use
How I was taught to write.
Introduction. Evidence 1. Evidence 2. Evidence 3. Conclusion
Each paragraph needs to have 5 sentences.
Has to be done right now.
Finish in 30 minutes.
Teacher only is going to read it and give feedback.
Product this produced.
A reluctant writer.
Never writing on my own but thought of it as "a school process."
Belief of "I am not a writer."
Nobody would want or need to read what I have to say.
The people who identify as writers, were born that way.
How I am trying to teach writing.
5-minute free-write on a prompt that I know any human-being, especially an eleven-twelve year-old, would find interesting.
Class discussion and those who would like to share, can.
Reference the topic many times in a two week period.
Share how I have learned the messiness of the writing process.
Discussion full of empathy as students talk about feelings they have when they hear, "Today, you are going to write..."
Use the 5-minute free write that is in their notebook to start their writing process.
Encourage the students take ownership and express their voice.
No minimums. No time limit.
Ask the students to think about "Who needs to hear your voice, and if you do not say it, who will?"
Students who understand that writing is hard, for everyone.
Students who are willing to write when they are not required.
Students who think their writing matters, for someone, somewhere.
When I think about the writing process I think about the straight line/squiggly line graphic to success. For way to long I have looked at writers and their final pieces with amazement. I have thought I could never produce something like that and that I do not even want to try.
I have been developing my abilities to identify having or not having a growth mindset. I have been recently experiencing how many different, very impactful ways, not having growth mindset, has weighed me down.
There is probably a thought that I should not be teaching about writing because I am not an "English teacher." I believe there is a place to have a teacher teach formal ways to achieve a final writing product but I would like to have students enjoy writing before I start telling them how to write.
Starting in February, I have been writing, not as a requirement for a class or my job, but because my mindset has shifted towards the idea of sharing what is happening in my educational/learning journey. I have hopes that somehow my writing is helping someone, somewhere.
Telling students they need to write a paper in an argumentative format seems crazy when their first thought is "How long does it have to be?" Is this building up a culture of writing or a culture of getting things done in school to get them done for school? Telling students to write a research paper seems like an impossible task when their first thoughts of writing are, "I don't need two English classes."
There needs to be an acknowledgement that if we are needing our students to write, we need to spend time developing their mindset to be positive about the writing they are doing.
Within doing project-based learning (PBL) there is a huge need to document the learning process and not just have a product. Having students write has been a struggle and I will now be having them write about what they should have a masterful amount of knowledge of, themselves and their learning, as a form of documentation.
As an educator, I believe we have the process of teaching students about writing backwards.
We need our young people to enjoy the benefits of expressing their thoughts in writing on many different topics.
We need our young people to be willing to engage in the writing process and enjoy how hard it is to effectively communicate ideas that are swimming around in their heads.
We need our young people to understand the power they have in their voice and how that translates to their writing.
We need our young people to understand and believe they have value and their ideas need to be heard.
We need our young people to be writers.
I had a feeling I knew. I wanted to observe what the students were going to produce when challenged to be creative.
The products were one or the other.
A poster or a PowerPoint.
Creativity has gone by the wayside in school to create more time for content. The classroom is more tidy when we give the students a list of directions to complete the project and all end up having the same item. The difference between the products is who followed all the directions better. The things that we have told the students, successfully, is to make are the things that are the easiest to assess.
Doing project-based learning (PBL) this year has allowed for student expression. Their learning being expressed in real and more powerful ways than the ways listed above. It is harder and more of process for a student to make a video about their learning. It is harder and more of process for a student to paint five different art pieces and come up with a solution for how they are going to be displayed on the Showcase Day. It is harder, for the student. It does require students to think about how to demonstrate what they have learned in a way that their learning is not lost. Don't we, as adults, struggle with explaining everything that we have learned and would have benefited from more practice throughout our school days?
I have found that when students are interested and passionate about their learning, expressing their passion in a poster and PowerPoint will not give it justice.
I wanted to provide my students with ideas that would help them start thinking differently and understanding that creating something different will be a risk. I want our students to know that even if they try something new and it fails, they are still in a successful learning cycle. The people that always do what they know will always be where they are currently. Presenting the students the below list taken from Ryan Schaaf allowed for this thinking and tinkering with their products to begin.
I will continue to show this list to my students and encourage them to take more creative risks and learn something new about themselves in their own creations!
100 Things Students Can Create To Demonstrate What They Know by Ryan Schaaf
Fake Social Media Account
Google Earth Tour
Self-Directed Short Video
Show & Tell
Social Media Branding
I passionately use Twitter - @realmrwince
I passionately use Instagram - growingwithwince
We are living a world that is more connected than ever before. I have a personal learning network (PLN) of teachers, administrators and educational experts from all over the world sharing information at an instant. In my classroom this means having the ability to connect with experts like never before. Authors, scientists, astronauts, athletes, actors, politicians, artists, cinematographers, musicians and many others have social media accounts that allows access into their lives and gives them a voice beyond the stage.
I firmly believe, as a parent, you have the right to decide what you want your son or daughter participating in online, but I ask for permission to use Twitter and Instagram has a resource for research and sharing ability to connect with others from around the world.
Instead of treating social media with fear, I view my position as an educator in the 21st century as someone who has the responsibility to teach our young people to responsibly use these platforms. This includes helping students understand privacy settings for their accounts, knowing once something is shared - it's shared, proper searching techniques to yield results quickly in research and the ability to create a learning network to enhance the learning process in and outside of the classroom.
My educational Twitter account will be used to share blogs, podcasts, articles and others sources of information on what is going on in education locally, state-wide, nationally and internationally.
My educational Instagram account will be used to visually show what is happening in our classroom. I will highlight the learning that is happening.
My goal is to be transparent with all about what your student is doing throughout the day.
I highly encourage, parents, who do not have these social media accounts, to create an account with your student to know what they are doing. Creating accounts will allow you to follow and participate in our classroom even when you are not physically present with us.
I believe in the power of social media for the good in education.
Social media is not going a way.
Join in and learn with us!
Articles For Teaching Young People About Social Media/Twitter
Using Twitter to Promote Learning
12 Easy Tips for Using Social Media Responsibly
13 Reasons to Use Twitter in the Classroom
Today's students are living in a very different world than what I grew up in. Their needs may be the same but how students process information and the skills that they possess are drastically different than the skills that I possessed when I was their age. I could always see this in the actions of the students. I could see when I presented something in a way that was "boring" or not meeting their needs. I felt it, too.
When I saw this series available, facilitated by Drew Perkins, Director of TeachThought PD, I knew I had to listen. I have not read the book by Ian Jukes, Ryan Schaaf and Nicky Mohan, Reinventing Learning for the Always On-Generation,but it is on my list.
TeachThought Podcast - Attributes of Digital Learners w/ Ryan Schaaf
1. Digital Learners prefer receiving information quickly from multiple, hyperlinked sources.
- 3/4 of teens and young adults check their devices every 15 minutes or less (according to Larry Rosen)
- Death of patience is due to chronic digital bombardment
- Digital is their native language
- Strategies - use of Wikipedia, Google Earth, WebQuests
2. Digital Learners prefer parallel processing and multitasking.
- Effective multitasking is dependent on good memory
- Essential skill in digital world but must also master single tasking
- We are not going back to 1985...need to prepare students for the world they are in
- Strategies - Tech breaks (1 min - then upside down to focus on work for 15 min - Goal is to increase work time between Tech breaks), use of Evernote
3. Digital Learners prefer processing picture, sounds, color and video.
- Increasingly text should give more details about images
- Eyes processes images 60,000 times faster than it does text
- Consumers and creators of digital content
- Shift from written media to visual media
- Strategy - powerful visual examples used to help students recall information, YouTube - videos to enhance the learning instruction (NEEDS TO BE UNLOCKED FOR STUDENTS AT SCHOOL!)
4. Digital Learners prefer to network and collaborate simultaneously with many others.
- It's not an addiction but a need to communicate with others
- The digital world is far from being isolated
- The shift to global digital networks has shifted the power from individual to groups
- Strategies - Google Drive - Students can contact students from across town to across the world, Google Forms, Skype and Google Hangouts to connect with experts in other states or countries
5. Digital Learners unconsciously read in an "F" or fast-pattern.
- first scan top horizontal content
- next scan down the left side of the page
- next scan down and shorter horizontally across the page
- Strategies - use of images and color enhance the learning experience of digital learners
6. Digital Learners prefer just-in-time learning.
- Today's generation of students should expect to have 10-17 different careers by the age of 37 - not because of failure but because of the reality of the economy
- New Age - School to work, school to work. Repeat.
- On-Demand generation - a click away
- Just-in-case vs. Just-in-time - the question is "What world are we preparing our students for?"
- Strategies - YouTube, TedTalks, Fast5 - use of digital devices to find 5 resources to help them learn something new
7. Digital Learners prefer instant gratification.
- Digital tools provide instant and ongoing feedback
- Posts on social media provide instant feedback with the likes and shares by followers
- All the time that was put into that one post, writing, game level completed is deferred gratification
- Strategies - Digital frames to display student work, game-based learning,
After listening to this series have I started paying more attention to what my students are doing when they are in the process of their learning. I agree with these preferences but I would like to add to it the students may prefer these ways of learning but they need to be taught how to do it effectively, which is why the strategies are so powerful.
I do not believe this lessens our burden of teaching because the students preferred learning may be different. This information should challenge our approach in how we present information to our students. We should not be educating the students and making them fit what we want and how we want to teach. We need to be the professionals and look at our students and their needs and modify what we do for them.
We have to be models of professionals, adults, learners that are constantly evaluating information and reaffirming our practices or making changes based on the new connections. If we are not modeling this for our students, they are going to copy what they see. Our actions are very important in the classroom because we have so many eyes trying to make sense of everything that we do.
My instruction moving forward will include these strategies to help the students be successful in their world!
Mr. Dylan Wince
I am not a writer but I am writing. I have learned too much to not share my journey.