The Inspired Classroom is now part of an experiment for a handful of teachers in my elementary school. Thanks to our innovative principal, Matt Rogers, our focus will be to provide greater and more timely access to web based tools, data and opportunities for interaction, for our students. The model, pioneered back in ’06 by Darren Wilson from Texas, is being used in pockets around the country and perhaps elsewhere but it is largely an underground movement. It’s partly an issue of branding, lack of central leadership and the use of private classroom wikis or LMSs creating sealed pockets of experiences.
The set up involves creating a 4-5:1 ratio of computers to students in your classroom and making the computer a part of individual PBLs. In other words, each group of 4 students has a computer sitting at one end of their cluster of desks or table. Lessons follow the typical, direct instruction (mini-lesson) a guided practice (demonstration) and then the students perform a group task independently using the computer as a resource for data, place to post reflections etc… depending on the project requirements. The teacher facilitates the activity and the class reconvenes to share their experiences. Students in each of the project learning teams have individual roles and responsibilities. I have established 4 distinct roles: chooser, recorder, driver and manager. These roles change daily giving each student a new responsibility to look forward to and a new job to learn each day. So far I have only implemented one project and although it was a big hit among students I was baffled as to how I might build in a better mechanism to track/assess the group progress.
I have loads of great ideas, some borrowed and some blooming in the poppy fields of my own imagination. The trouble is, how can I help students record their experiences effectively and use the process as a KWl, a study guide creator, and so on? I am investigating blended learning approaches and virtual school curriculum for clues. Stay tuned for my observations, student and parent reactions and feel free to give your feedback, suggestions or links that might help my students succeed on this new path.