Welcome Back! I hope we all had a great summer- both restful and productive. I worked with some great teachers in Las Vegas, Chicago, and Singapore at National Institutes on Technology this summer. I learned a lot and am genuinely thankful to those of you who agreed to share your ideas, successes, and productive failures with me this upcoming year. I look forward to another great year in the classroom. Here are three things I am going to focus on in the classroom this year.
1. Students Researching Resources. I often talk about this as the Most Valuable Lesson (MVL) and I have used it quite a lot in the past. I plan on increasing the use even more this year. Every new topic I teach is going to have a built-in assessment of students finding resources. I am going to challenge the students to find videos, apps, websites, twitter chats, etc. that have to do with the content. We are going to critically evaluate them in class. I will work less and allow them to work more. And we will be creating a virtual library of resources for their use.
2. Assessments. My good friend Rich Butler introduced me to the book, Permission to Forget, by Lee Jenkins this summer in which Jenkins states that all assessments should be composed of 80% old material and 20% new material. If we don’t want students cramming and forgetting, this strategy makes a lot of sense. I don’t do many traditional assessments in my classes; but, the ones I do will incorporate a lot more “old” material. This way, students actually store it in their long-term memory, not just learn it for the 45 minute assessment and then lose it forever.
3. Project Based Learning. So many of the skills our students need to know for work in today’s world include collaborating, critical thinking, collating of knowledge, and producing of new knowledge. Project Based Learning is a great way to have students attack a problem from the start- ask the right questions, gather the right information, report it in a meaningful way, and ask critical follow-up questions. Technology, of course, facilitates this learning in much deeper ways because of instant access to the content. We are going to be doing this a lot in our classroom.
Please let me know what you are going to be focusing on too. I look forward to hearing from you as you try new things. Please be in touch- and remember to stay crazy in the classroom.