Possible Course 5 Projects

Throughout COETAIL I have been challenged, in my pedagogy, tech savviness, and in how to make what I’m learning fit into my current job.  At times it has been very frustrating, I asked myself why didn’t I take COETAIL earlier when I was in the classroom. I would read fellow COETAILers posts with envy at what they were able to apply and do with their students. It took a mindshift on my part to find and celebrate the times I could apply my learnings with students (meaning my colleagues and sometimes the actual students in our school).

Coming up with a final project is challenging to me for a few reasons: there is so much I have learned that I want to try it all out, I’m not quite sure the route to take–do I take over a class of students or do I try and diffuse my learning amongst the staff?, and finally what is feasible within our school’s budget and readiness. I’m over ambitious by nature, but through lots of COETAIL reflection I have learned that pushing people or pulling them to where you want them to be isn’t always the best way to get there. I need to have patience and look for little bits of COETAILness I can introduce or fit into the already large amount of things we are asking teachers to do. I’ve learned that a lot of what my application of COETAIL looks like is setting the example for teachers through modeling, pushing the conversations further, and asking probing questions in meetings that cause teachers to reflect and think upon their current practices. 

Photo Credit: Hello World by David
Photo Credit: Hello World by David

 

Here are two options I have thought about, and I’m not done brainstorming.  I am still fumbling with an idea of a global book club for administrators, but right now it’s still marinating in my brain. Without further ado…

PROJECT 1: PASSION PROJECTS BLOG AND EACTALKS

Describe the project: What will your students do?

Students would do Passion Projects (Genius Hour) during their Dynamic Learning class. Students would learn how to blog about their progress, process, presentations, and reflections.  The blog would be a school wide blog so students could comment on other students in different grade levels. At the end of each learning period we would have a celebration in the form of EACTalks. Eventually I would love for our students to connect with other classes around the world or share our EACTalks. Ideally students would collaborate on a passion project with a student from another school like they are doing from a similiar COETAIL project I started in 5th grade.

How does this project reflect your learning from COETAIL?

Students will learn how to be prosumers, consumers, and digesters of digital literacy.  They would also learn the power of connecting with other learners around the world and creating a positive digital footprint during their research and sharing. The blogging would be a new tool at our school and would empower students to share their learning and comment on other’s’ learning. The EACTalks students prepare will focus on presentation design.

What goals do you hope to achieve with this project?

I want students to take ownership of their learning and understand they have something to contribute to our world. In addition to all the learning objectives for students, I want to model and set an example of ways teachers can integrate technology in an authentic and meaningful way.

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

This combines learning outcomes from each of the courses into a multigrade level project. This will be a challenge to pull off because I am not technically responsible for these classes, so I will have to work closely with the assistants in charge of them. I will need to balance the instruction, management, and leadership at the same time.  I also think this is a great possibility for our school because blogging isn’t utilized and I’m hoping this opens teachers up to the idea of starting class/grade blogs.

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

I am not in charge of the classes, so managing them and making sure they are following the unit plan will require me to be in constant communication with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade assistants.

What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?

The student-driven aspect and it being their choice will be a big shift for the assistants to manage.  We introduced it this year and some of them really struggled with letting students be free to make mistakes and reflecting with students on the process. Also, the presentation design will be a huge shift, the whole Zen approach. In essence, everything really revolves around the shift from “I am the teacher and you will do this project” to “I am a coach in your learning process, how can I help you?”.

What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

Honestly, I think the students already have the skills and attitudes that are required for this unit, it will just be about revealing them. On the skills side I predict students will have to learn how to create guiding questions,  search and filter information, find creative commons images for their presentations, and design great presentations.  As far as attitude, I think students will be surprised at how they can connect and learn from others around the world, and I also some students might need help in seeing themselves as the person in charge of their learning.

PROJECT 2: MAKERSPACES 

Describe the project: What will your students do?

I want to create portable Makerspaces for students around the elementary school.  I would want the students involved in the whole process to get the Spaces: brainstorming, fundraising/campaigning, creation of the space, making, and reflecting. Throughout the process students would create videos, PSAs, procedures, and displays about the Makerspaces.

How does this project reflect your learning from COETAIL?

Before COETAIL I read about Makerspaces, but didn’t think it was possible at my school (right now). COETAIL helped me see that pushing my school, myself, and my teachers, and my students is worth it because they will blow my mind. Also, I would really have to rely on my PLN to be creative with the spaces we have available and also with budget. I already got some feedback and resources on the Final Project Feedback doc I created.

What goals do you hope to achieve with this project?

I hope to empower students to create, make connections, imagine, problem solve, collaborate, and discover new things about themselves through the Makerspaces. I also hope to transform or cause people to rethink the learning environments in a school.

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

It would stretch my school in its approach to learning and give opportunities to make connections with students in a safe and innovative learning environment. For the project I would pull from all aspects of the course, mainly connectivism, design, PLN, problem based learning, game based learning, and social media.

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

Money, money, money.  Due to the economic conditions in Brazil our budget is very tight.  I’m not sure this can even happen due to the budget. I plan to fundraise or campaign to the board/parents for funds for the Makerspaces.

What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?

Valuing all learning and its importance to the whole child, even if it is outside the traditional curricular areas.

What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

Students will need to go through the design process, this will require them to track their progress and reflect on their different attempts and failures. In regard to the videos, PSAs, and displays students will need to learn good design principles. Students will need to be very open minded, flexible, collaborative, and reflective.

Course 1 Final Project: Passions Collide

Through this process I’ve learned that I am an idea girl. I can come up with some great ideas, but the plausibility is sometimes questionable. I struggled with this project because add to the dreamer in me and the feeling of loss from being out of the classroom and not having a class to call my own and I had no clue where to start.  Should I do a unit for teachers?  Parents?  The ELL students I work with for 40 minutes a day?  Or the multi-grade students in a free period I help coordinate? The choices were overwhelming and I didn’t know where to start.  So I started…multiple times.  I basically did 3 projects and didn’t like any of them.  Finally I read Rebecca’s final project and the light bulb went off.  Why not start with something I already had and REDEFINE it?

Another thing I learned is that it is hard to plan a global collaborative project. I’ve joined many, but starting one is more of a challenge. I got on Twitter and threw my net out a couple of times (remember how I started 3 projects?) but to no avail. I waited and continued planning, but as the due date got closer I realized things weren’t panning out and it probably wasn’t going to happen. I am not the Twitter queen, but I have some followers and if it was this hard for me to start a global project then how hard would it be for a new Tweeter or someone not on it?  Is there a database for collaborative projects? I know Skype has Skype in the Classroom and I found a Global Collaboration Day, but these weren’t exactly what I was looking for.  I was frustrated and added this as a challenge to tackle in the future.

The actual planning and creating the unit was the most fun (remember I’m an idea girl). I decided to go with the students that have a free period while other students are in Portuguese class.  In the past this has been a waste of time because there isn’t a curriculum and no one has really claimed it as their class.  This year I took on the challenge and came up some ideas.  I did Genius Hour in my 5th grade classroom for the past couple of years, and realized this is the perfect opportunity for students to use this time more effectively. I have introduced the passion projects, but was just going to do the sharing in-house.  This is where my PLN came in handy, a couple of weeks ago a PLN buddy at Lincoln to collaborate with their TEDed clubs, but at that point I didn’t really see how I could work it in. Then I thought although we aren’t another TEDed club, this is a great opportunity for my students to share their projects and receive feedback and also give feedback to their partners’ at Lincoln. I can already see this project growing into something similar to a TEDed forum.

One thing I want to look at after I teach the first round of passion projects is adding a mini-lesson on Pecha Kuchas.  I had to create one in one of my Masters course and it was a huge challenge, it really made me focus and plan out my content and then move on with the overall theme in mind.

Without further ado, my final project.  I would love feedback on how to improve it.  Thanks in advance!