Getting Connected

Aug 9, 2012 by     7 Comments    Posted under: Communicate, Digital Suitcase

When the school year starts up again it is always an interesting challenge to get connected with the things going on at school – friends, students, new initiative, etc. It seems that the holidays hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm to try something totally different this year – it is time to get out there again.

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Ivan Rumata

For the first stop on this journey into the uncomfortable Ivan and myself have continued the redevelopment of our Year 9 course. We are looking to implement a student directed and peer assessed course and I think we are getting close.

The course is designed around the idea that the students are working towards their “Digitally Connected Passport“. Along the way they will earn stamps in this passport to show their development and mastery. The different regions/sections that the students will have to explore are the MYP Approaches to Learning. Inside each region students will have to complete a set number of activities in order to earn their stamp. As they work towards a stamp each activity will need to be peer assessed and then as they go for their stamp they have to get approved by the supervisor (Ivan or myself). Hopefully we have found the right blend of entertainment and challenging.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by JorgeBRAZIL

We have taken inspiration from many different sources for the games style of this unit and have drawn heavily on the new Common Sense Media curriculum for our activities. Things are looking good at the moment and we only have to wait a few more days to let is lose on the students. I can’t wait.

7 Comments + Add Comment

  • It’s great to see you and Ivan pushing the envelope (as usual!). I love that I can see elements of John Rinker’s and Cathy Davidson’s presentations from the EARCOS Teachers Conference in this idea. I can’t wait to see/hear how students react to this self-directed style of learning and inquiry!

  • Thanks for the feedback Clint. We were very much inspired by what Cathy Davidson was doing and thought we had to give it a shot ourselves. Will be interesting to see how things work out. I will keep you up to date with the developments

  • Hi Will!

    I love how you guys have made the ATL so connected to the course in authentic ways in terms of content, process, and product. I also love that you’ve used the Common Sense Media “stuffs” as inspiration — that’s definitely evident and for good reason, as I doubt few would argue with its relevance, particularly for a course like this. The blog space is looking great and I think the headings/categories you’ve organized are logical and useful for both students and teachers, especially from an MYP-ATL perspective, but even in a wider perspective if you were to come at them from an ISTE-NETS view. They just “make sense.”

    Actually, I love everything about your new course concept except one thing: badges. :-/ I can understand your reason for using them, but as I think you already know, I have considerable concerns about their use as tracking or “motivation” for learning… particularly for an ATL-focused course (doh!). I will leave it there for the moment, however, as I am all for experimentation and risk-taking in the classroom… who knows what you might uncover. 🙂

    I have three questions:
    Where does this fit into MYP — as in, is this a Technology (Design Tech) course?
    What are the primary assessment tasks? Perhaps you have these already but I missed them.
    Is there a collaborative part to the course?

    • Hi Adrienne – thanks for the feedback. I always love hearing other people’s thoughts.

      First up just to clarify this course isn’t part of the MYP Design course. This is a NIST only course where both Ivan and myself have the opportunity to work with the year 9 students throughout the year to ensure they have the “digital” skills to perform successfully in the MYP and DP programmes. So we have a bit of flexibility on how things are organized.

      The course is not an assessed course and is designed to challenge the student’s understanding of how to use technology whilst also developing their skills. We ran the course (in a different form) last year and the feedback we received was that the students would like more concrete feedback on how they are doing. So this is where the “badge” idea came from. As we were designing the course we both discussed the advantages and disadvantages of offering “badges” and ended up saying that we would give a go.

      How does collaboration fit in? – well that is a good question. It is something that I have been working on over the past couple of weeks. I have been trying to think of activities which the students can complete independently which require them to collaborate with the global community. I have a few ideas but would be open to suggestions. Thanks again

  • Once again impeccably organised and incredibly well structured Will. I will add my questions to Adrienne’s. this seems to be very curriculum focussed in terms of technology, can it be included into the technology course that already exist at your school? I realise that the structure of this digital course is very innovative in that it doesn’t fit into really any specific area of the MYP but should it? The aspects that you are covering in this course are incredibly important (IMHO) should it now be considered as a stand alone subject?
    I was going to ask if you have made a conscious decision to move away from the tech integration model but then saw your next blog post, NICE!
    I am curious as to how to how the “number of days” that you have allocated to each course works for each student given that you really don’t see them all that often face-to-face.
    Well done Will (and IVAN!!) will be making an effort to check in when I can.

    • Hi Jason,
      Some good questions there. Could it be part of another course? I think it could easily incorporated into another course. This would take a fair bit of time and a lot of collaboration but I think it would be possible. Hopefully if things go well with our course then this will be the next area we will work on.

      The stuff that is covered in this course is pretty specific and taught explicitly but I think a lot of it could be incorporated into a regular course. It would take a bit of a rejig of how courses would be organized but I think it could be an area to look out for in the future.

      As for the number of contact sessions we have them only once a 10 day cycle which means that we will have less than 20 sessions in a year. This isn’t a huge amount of time but I think the activities that have been designed will allow them to complete an activity in a session (maybe more). This is one of the variables were are going to have to keep an eye on this year. Cheers

  • Ah, thanks for clarifying all of that. Makes much more sense now!

    Maybe you (and the students) can find some ideas in this community?

    In particular, you might find something interesting here:

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