During more than 20 years as a school administrator, I received numerous reports of bullying incidents from children, parents and teachers. Now that I'm the director of Not In Our School and bullying has become a topic of national discussion, I still regularly get calls from students and parents who share stories of tragic and worrisome incidents.
Authenticity -- we know it works! There is research to support the value of authentic reading and writing. When students are engaged in real-world problems, scenarios and challenges, they find relevance in the work and become engaged in learning important skills and content. In addition, while students may or may not do stuff for Mr. Miller, they are more likely to engage when there is a real-world audience looking at their work, giving them feedback, and helping them improve. This is just one critical part of project-based learning. However, maybe you aren't ready for fully authentic projects. Where are some good places to start taking the authenticity up a notch in your classroom?
The morning of Saturday, June 15 marked the beginning of the 24-hour Activate-Ed educational hackathon. "HACKtivate ED" was the brainchild of four Analyst Fellows with Education Pioneers, seeking to connect educational luminaries from San Francisco Bay Area school districts with tech sector developers to tackle key issues affecting K-12 students. The event, organized by Chian Gong, Han Hong, Thu Cung and Roxanne Phen, invited developers, designers, educators and analysts to begin a much-needed conversation.
Providing your students with a public audience is not only a critical part of the project-based learning process, but it's also a great strategy for building authenticity into assignments to create work that matters. We often leverage our students' parents and guardians in this process because 1) they are easily accessible, and 2) they are our partners in their children's learning plans. Why not then continue and build this partnership in PBL? John Larmer wrote a great blog about how to build parent support for PBL, and one of the best ways he mentions is to keep them involved in the PBL project you launch in your classroom. Here are some strategies to consider as you leverage parents for your next PBL project.
The Maker movement continues to gain momentum. At this year's White House Science Fair, President Obama invited Super-Awesome Sylvia from Auburn, California to exhibit her water color robot as a representative of the Maker community. At the same event, the Corporation for National Service announced its commitment to place Americorps VISTAs in Maker movement organizations across the country. Maker Ed is placing those Maker VISTAs in makerspaces to help build their capacity for engaging low-income students as makers. In this spirit, we are starting to see more and more makerspaces springing up in schools across the country. If you are a teacher experimenting with making projects in your classroom, here are some successful fundraising strategies we've seen educators use to fund a makerspace for their school community.
It's an exciting, creative time in our country. Running in lockstep with the technology boom is the maker movement, a whole legion of people interested in making and designing things themselves. There are builders, designers, tinkerers and do-it-yourselfers sharing their inventions, crafts and designs with a wider audience than ever before. Their work is accessible via websites, online magazines, hacker workspaces and maker fairs. This movement seems to be tapping into an unmet need that the technology world cannot satisfy on its own.
This is the second of two parts about The Nueva School's Intro to Entrepreneurship elective course for 7th and 8th graders. In the previous post, students learned to think like knowledge workers, focus on social good, and identify unaddressed needs. In this post, we see those pieces coming together.
Entrepreneurship in pre-collegiate schools is spreading like wildfire! In 2011, a venture capitalist parent and I decided to pilot an Intro to Entrepreneurship elective for our seventh and eighth graders at The Nueva School. We were stunned when 23 of the roughly 100 students in those grades signed up for the course. This past year, we actually had to turn away seven students who wanted to repeat the class. Clearly, we had hit a chord with today's youth.
Ahhh, August -- the dog days of summer. Before the back-to-school frenzy. I hope that you, your family and students everywhere have enjoyed some unstructured time, some time outdoors, and some time getting your hands and feet dirty at the beach, the park, your backyard, or your front stoop or sidewalk. While you are -- hopefully -- in this relaxed state of mind, I want to plant a few ideas to change your perspective and practices as you head back to school this year. These are ideas for bringing the outdoors, healthy living and stewardship into your school and community.
When I was introduced to the term "social-emotional learning" and began to understand its meaning, I recognized it as a ray of hope. Hope for my community, which, seemingly unbeknownst to me, had changed dramatically over the years.