Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Getting Out of the Way

Here's a great idea for a lesson plan:
  1. Give the students the tools they need.
  2. Get of of the way while they explore, collaborate, solve problems and create.
  3. Refocus by having the students review, criticize, and learn from each other.
In the video below, you'll see Mr. Mitchell do just that. At the end of the fourth week of school, the students had sufficient experience with their technology tools to focus on the task at hand--in this case, to create a project that could be shared with others that would provide some level of instruction or information for the audience. The students' choices were varied--using ScreenChomp to demonstrate factoring, drawing, calculation, or a variety of other topics, creating an App of the Week or other informational podcast using Audio Memo, or working through some social studies topics with Keynote. Students had to negotiate both content and output with their partners, agree on a course of action, create a script or outline, locate the tools they would need, create the project, and finally present their work to the class for critical review. The latter is significant as it also allowed the students to show new things they had learned and become teachers for the rest of the class.

Along the way, the students had to solve several problems--how to have three people listening to a project through headphones when the audio splitters only allowed two headphones at a time, how to manage more than one iPad as needed for the presentation or recording, how to cooperatively create scripts that were easy to follow, and how to do this without the familiar pencil and paper tools. As you can see, they were able to come up with solutions for just about everything.

Mr. Mitchell's role in the process was to facilitate their learning in whatever ways were appropriate to the task at hand. In some cases, it was direct instruction; in others, it might be asking extending questions, making suggestions for apps, or helping to locate resources. Student engagement was strong and pervasive. You'll see students rehearsing their work and revising it based on feedback. The lesson lasted for 2.5 hours--from the end of lunch until the final bell.

What a great way to end the week.

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