Expand your classroom and keep kids engaged
The weather is getting nicer. The sun is finally out. And you are in charge of keeping your class engaged, focused and ...inside? Ha!
Any teacher who has experienced spring in Vermont knows that students get a little wiggly this time of year. What’s a great way to harness that energy and keep students engaged with school to the very end of the year?
How do project-based learning and makerspaces fit together?
Making and PBL may look like two completely different educational movements, but in reality they work well together and each strengthens the other.
That’s because they share a common fundamental underpinning: they honor students’ innate curiosity about the world.
A student-centered approach to school discipline
Editor’s note: The students in Randolph Union’s PBL class have created a restorative justice system for their school. The students wrote this post as a way to share their story and encourage other schools to give restorative justice a try.
A lot of people are afraid to start implementing restorative justice in schools because of how intensive the work is. Although it certainly has been difficult to do it at Randolph Union High School (RUHS), we have found that it is well worth our efforts. Students have found that the working in setting up and running Restorative Justice has made subtle but important changes in their learning.
Deliver the goods!
Rather than creating a unit on the Civil War, imagine working with an individual student or small group on a topic that fully engages them, but might be something you know little about. First we looked at how to find resources in multiple formats, to meet students’ different learning needs and preferences.
Now, how do we deliver those materials in a way that responds to students’ needs and also gives them some choice in how, when, and where they learn?
The art of the responsible remix
With the incredible popularity and ease of digital mediamaking comes great responsibility. As students unlock the power of digital storytelling and media creation, they seek to incorporate music, images and video into their productions.
But it’s not as simple as just hitting up the Google.
Building a differentiation & personalization toolkit
I was privileged recently to work with a number of pre-service teachers here at the University of Vermont. All were eager to gain access to tools and resources to help them respond to the variety of learners’ needs they will face in classrooms.
Using the Civil War as our (broad) topic, we developed a workflow for creating a tech-rich social studies unit responsive to different learners’ needs. And using ourselves as learners, we tested out our methods.
VR’s real world impact on students
Virtual reality is exciting and many of our students are already using this technology in gaming (as some were quick to tell me). So why aren’t we using it more in education?
Maybe we just need some ideas on how to use VR in education. So let’s start by looking at virtual reality in project-based learning (PBL).
Help students become creators of this engaging new technology
With the astronomical rise in popularity of virtual reality in education, it’s important to make available tools for students to create virtual reality content as well as consuming it. So while you get ready to send your students off on Expeditions to amazing new worlds and experiences, have ways for them to make their own waiting when they return.
Let’s look at a couple ways students can create VR content.
Lessons learned from a film festival
Every year, I watch in awe as students take ownership of their films and are challenged to exercise new skills and proficiencies: self direction, creative expression, and problem-solving. I’ve seen this assignment throw some of our most academically-capable and motivated students off-balance.
I’ve also watched many diverse groups pull together to create some powerful, beautifully-shot films.
This may be the most challenging course we offer.
What could possibly go wrong?
Remember when teaching was simply planning a lecture, shutting the door, and delivering it to students? This may have been easy for the teacher, but it certainly didn’t make for deep and relevant learning for the students. The work of developing project-based, engaging, and personalized learning is much more complex.
It’s also full of uncertainty. Let me tell you about a recent field trip I took with students.