Friday, June 28, 2013

Thinking Hard at ISTE

Thanks to all who attended our jam-packed ISTE session, “Signposts to Better Projects: How to Take Thinking Deeper in Digital-Age PBL.” (If you weren’t able to get in—sorry! The session was videotaped. I’ll share the link to the video as soon as ISTE posts it.)
To warm up the crowd, co-presenter Mike Gwaltney and I asked participants to do a bellringer activity. The prompt: How does my classroom or learning space set the stage for inquiry?
Their replies left me feeling optimistic about the learning spaces that at least some students are getting to experience. As we explain in Thinking Through Project-Based Learning, you may not be able to afford the luxury of a whole-school remodel. But there’s plenty you can do within the physical environment and culture of your classroom to inspire deeper thinking.
Here’s a sampling:

  • “Many teachers give time in their class for students to leave the classroom and work elsewhere (outside, tech rooms, sitting on the floor, etc.) in their groups to work on their projects.”
  • “Essential questions are posted in a lot of our classrooms. We use Socratic seminars to facilitate and encourage discussion.”
  • “My kids spend more time on the floor than in desks. Of course, they are middle school so they would not sit on the floor if directed...But they choose to do so regularly by choice. Collaboration is so much easier with the proximity.”
  • “Creating spaces for wonder. French conjugations printed on staircases, and lots of areas for documentation of student and teacher work processes.”
  • “The space is called The Collaboratory. It is warm, inviting, and conducive to conversation.”
  • “Allowing students choice of how they approach a topic—building on their interests.”

Slides from our ISTE session are posted here.

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