Create a "sandbox"

What if schools created an environment or system specifically designated for testing something new?

Photo of Emma Scripps
15 11

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The Need: 

A classroom can sometimes feel like a high stakes environment - especially in an age where teachers are often heavily evaluated on their students' performance on standardized tests, which may only offer a snapshot of learning at a fixed time. In the course of a school day, there's an incredible amount of urgency teachers feel to get through content and ensure students are learning.  Classrooms, then, don't always easily lend themselves to innovation and experimentation  - especially if that experimentation means taking a risk on what you might be able to cover in the course of the school year. 

An Idea: 

What if schools created an environment or system that freed them up to test out something new. For example, I've heard of some schools establishing "innovation groups" - cohorts of teachers who have a designated time each week or month to come together and dream about ways the school might push on what's possible for their students.

OR - what if there was an elective that students and families could opt into that would allow teachers to test new ideas - new technology, lesson formats, routines around space, etc.  - with a dedicated cohort of students who would give them feedback on what worked and didn't? The students would have the opportunity to co-design the school experience - and teachers would benefit from hearing firsthand what's working and what's not.

If you're a teacher who has tried something like this at your school - I'd love to hear how it worked!

  

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Photo of Paula
Team

Hi Emma,

We have 5 kinder classes at my school. The school asked two volunteers to try something new next year so a colleague and I stepped up to the challenge. We will teach our Humanities units in collaboration with a Language teacher. I am buddying up with the French teacher and my colleague is buddying up with the Spanish teacher. I believe that this will benefit our students! I also stepped up to learn more about Blended Learning so this holidays I have been curating some of my lessons with that in mind. I will be using in-class flip to give the kids more ownership of their learning as well. As a teacher I believe we should always try new things, the only way to know something will work out better is if we try.
In the past, with parental approval I used the flip camera for digital portfolios, and the livescribe pen for handwriting. These both helped me to show the kids how they were reading and forming their letters and that they themselves could evaluate their progress.
One thing that I wanted to do, which the parents okayed but for other reasons didn't work out: I wanted to see a school day through the eyes of my students. We have a Go-Pro at home and I wanted to attach it to a helmet, which the kids would wear... but unfortunately I was not able to get that going!

Photo of Emma
Team

OMG love that Go Pro idea. How cool would that be if you did that with 100 students. And then edited all those perspectives together. Would make for an amazing empathy building experience.

Photo of Paula
Team

I know right! I got the okay from all my parents but as I mentioned unfortunately I was not able to get that going.....

Photo of Margaret
Team

I've tried pieces of this using Google Glass with Pre-K to 2nd grade students (documented at http://365daysofglass.com) and it has been really interesting - especially in terms of room design. I would love to do an entire school day but Glass would get really hot running that long so it would have to be spliced together over multiple days.

Photo of Paula
Team

Hi Margaret,

How fun! I also used Google Glass in the classroom :-) I wrote about it as well: http://ecisitcommittee.edublogs.org/2015/02/01/february/ .
I found that it was an amazing way to take photographs and videos without disrupting whatever it was the kids were doing. I was also very interested in the hangout side of it. I had planned to have a hangout on and the parents would see what we were seeing during field trips, but Google discontinued that feature. Margaret thank you for sharing the link to your page. I was just reading it. Amazing work you did!

Photo of Emma
Team

Well a project for down the road anyway... super cool.

Photo of Paula
Team

Yes! They might bring the feature back! :-)

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