Professional Development that Works

September 26th, 2017 Uncategorized

If students can benefit from high quality inquiry-based learning opportunities, why couldn’t we afford the same opportunity to teachers? Students and teachers face similar challenges as learners, so it makes sense to teach our teachers the same we we want our students to be taught. What we call ‘traditional professional development’ involves a projector, screen, and a presentation app like Powerpoint, loaded with slides to drill down a topic. A full “powerpoint’ing” is useful for compliance: to cover the bases to so no one can claim ignorance. Sometimes this is necessary, but no one wants Professional Development (PD) that mimics legalese fine print. Better yet, does anyone really ever thrive under these conditions?  (more…)

Spark Suite Add-ons for G Suite

September 26th, 2017 Uncategorized

Hub and Deck: The Two You Need

With the Spark Cards, we can create an instructional sequence for our students to follow. The Add-ons of Spark Suite automate this sequence and make it easy for teachers and students to focus on what matters: their ideas and your feedback. Imagine two forms: one for learners to submit their artifacts of learning, and another for teachers and mentors to respond with their feedback. Teachers and mentors can also leave points or trigger a “rewind” if they want the learner to reiterate on their work. This idea wouldn’t be necessary in a classroom with a single simple project, but our goal is inquiry.. We want to give our students voice and choice. We want to give them options, and perhaps increase the number of opportunities to learn and display leadership. Spark Suite is more than a few apps, it’s a way to organize the critical Feedback Cycle that is a key component of inquiry. Let’s begin by focusing on the two you need: Spark Hub and Spark Deck. Go ahead and take a minute to add these Add-ons to your account. (more…)

Instructional Design for Independent Learning

September 26th, 2017 Uncategorized

Imagine authentic enrichment opportunities paired with a method to allow learners to work independently. How might we develop independent learning practices without compromising the quality of instruction? Could we engage and motivate our students grow their ability to think critically beyond the base expectation? Using gamification and badges will help keep our students motivated. Providing open access to a high number of learning opportunities to allow for choice is important. Yet it is a focus on Inquiry that tells the story of how Spark, Set.. Go! came to be. (more…)

Facilitating Passion Projects and Genius Hour

September 3rd, 2017 Uncategorized

Some of the uneasiness I have with Passion Projects and Genius Hour (aka 20% Time)  is how unevenly it seems to be applied to student populations. It’s easy to understand why. Coaching students through an independent learning project of their design takes time, a resource that many teachers do not have to adequately devote to every student. As a result, a few lucky learners are the recipients of this extraordinary learning opportunity that has no rival. It seems that self-directed learning isn’t on the menu for a vast majority of our students, and I sometimes wonder if the students that need it the most might be the last to get it. (more…)